The Pasadena City College football team turned to its special teams to make the big plays as the Lancers returned a punt return and a kick return for touchdowns in a 31-20, American Metro League-opening win over El Camino-Compton Center at Robinson Stadium Saturday night.
PCC improved to 3-2 overall while Compton remains winless at 0-5.
In the first quarter, safety Kendell Jefferson returned a a short punt 45 yards for a 7-0 Lancers lead. It had been six years since a Lancer brought back a punt for a TD.
Leading 14-6 at halftime, wide receiver Yusef Muhammad became the first PCC player in nine years to return a kickoff for a TD as he jetted for a 91-yard score on the second-half kickoff. It was also the first time in nine years that PCC had returned both a punt and kick return for a TD in the same game--both had previously performed by the same player Marcus Anderson in a 2007 victory over Riverside City College.
The special teams also had a 41-yard field goal by kicker Enrique Lozano, whose drive was so high it might have cleared 55 yards. Lozano added three extra points and two touchbacks on kickoffs. On defense, the special teams twice forced Compton into failing 2-point conversion attempts and tackle Daeqwan Bailey added a blocked extra point.
The PCC running game produced its first 100-yard rusher in four years in Reggie Harvey, who carried 20 times for 103 yards. He used a block by defensive tackle and red zone fullback specialist David Keshishyan to score on a 3-yard TD scamper. Harvey capped a 12-play, 93-yard drive that featured quarterback Jesse Hanckel completing 4-for-5 passing for 54 yards, including a 34-yard leaping catch by Muhammad.
In the second quarter, Hanckel connected with running back James Shaw for a 22-yard touchdown pass. Shaw ran for 47 yards in 19 carries as the Lancers netted 148 yards on the ground. Hanckel didn't throw often, completing 10 of 15 passes for 141 yards.
Compton quarterback Johnny Bailey countered by completing 17 of 32 attempts for 188 yards and two touchdowns.
On defense, the Lancers received strong performances by linebackers Jasper Chavez and Matt Terlizzi, who each had seven tackles and a sack. Bailey also made seven tackles, four of which were behind the line of scrimmage. Jefferson picked up an interception. Linebacker Daniel Moreno, who did most of his damage in the second half, led the team in tackles with 10.
Muhammad finished with 163 all-purpose yards. Tight end Jordan Bruner made four receptions for 44 yards.
Under head coach Tom Maher, the Lancers' 3-2 first half of the season is the first time the team is better than .500 at the midway point since PCC was 4-1 in 2010.
Next week, the Lancers travel to face West Los Angeles College in a 1 p.m. Metro League kickoff.
[Photo--Lancer James Shaw goes airborne to complete his TD catch and run in the second quarter Saturday at Robinson Stadium, image by Richard Quinton.]