More Late Angst For Football As Pierce Rallies To Beat PCC, 44-43

PCC lineman Hector Palacios makes a diving grasp of Pierce quarterback Jonathan Saavedra during the Lancers loss in Woodland Hills Saturday evening, photo by Richard Quinton.
PCC lineman Hector Palacios makes a diving grasp of Pierce quarterback Jonathan Saavedra during the Lancers loss in Woodland Hills Saturday evening, photo by Richard Quinton.

The Pasadena City College football team let leads of 23-6 and 43-30 slip away Saturday night as host Pierce College mounted a comeback in the final eight minutes to down the Lancers in a SCFA American Pacific League shootout, 44-43.

Pierce's backup quarterback Cameron Perry scored on a 1-yard keeper with five minutes left, then connected with Cherrod Joe on a 32-yard touchdown pass with 1:04 to go. Joe wrestled for the ball with PCC defensive back Rodney Collier, but pulled in the bomb pass, just landing a foot in the deep corner of the end zone. Erik Castro booted the game-winning point on the ensuing extra-point kick. 

The Lancers got to as close as the Pierce 37 yard-line, but quarterback Mario Bobadilla was sacked by Mosiah Brame near midfield to end the game.

PCC lost its fifth straight game to fall to 2-5 and now 0-2 in Pacific play. Pierce improved to 4-3 and 2-0.

Bobadilla and kicker Fernando Murillo had big games to gear the PCC offense. The sophomore Bobadilla had his best game as a Lancer as he completed 18 of 29 passes for 324 yards and four touchdowns.

Bobadilla's passes were all bomb plays as he hit David Telles for a 56-yard score to give PCC a 7-0 lead, fired a 34-yard TD aerial to Forest Fajardo later in the first quarter, launched a 37-yard, six-pointer to Hernandel Johnson in the third quarter, and found a streaking Jordan Palmer down the sideline for a 39-yard touchdown with 7:52 left in the game. Bobadilla had a potential fifth TD to Fajardo (a 25-yard throw) nullified on a holding penalty early in the second quarter. 

The left-footed Murillo kicked three field goals, including boots of 42 and 40 yards in the second quarter and a 20-yard trey in the third quarter. He was successful also on four extra point kicks to finish with 13 overall points. However, his early miss wide after the Fajardo TD turned out to haunt the Lancers at the end of the game. But without Murillo's clutch kicks and his ability to get off clean punts (took over punting and kickoff duties for the first time this season), PCC may not have held the lead for most of the contest.

Lancers running back Sultaan Sullivan passed the 100-yard mark for the third this season as he finished with 117 yards in 16 carries. Telles totaled five receptions for 86 yards and added 160 yards on nine returns (eight on kickoffs). Fajardo made four catches for 80 yards. 

On defense, linebacker Kobe Quiroga scored on a 2-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the second quarter that helped PCC build a commanding 23-6 lead. Quiroga scooped up the ball after bad Pierce punt snap with Shane Andrews knocking the ball loose from Brahmas punter Pena Williams. Quiroga added four tackles, including a 14-yard sack. Defensive back Sebastian Ramos had five tackles, a forced fumble and broke up two passes. For the second straight week, lineman David Vardanian led the team in tackles with eight. 

Linebacker Taiyo Gibbs and defensive back Torus Stepney Jr. each added a sack. Lineman Hector Palacios contributed five tackles, two behind the line of scrimmage and a hurry.

For Pierce, Perry was the hero as he came off the bench for injured starter Jonathan Saavedra late in the first quarter. Perry completed 19 of 31 passes for 331 yards and four touchdowns. The PCC secondary could not contain receiver Marcus Johnson, who had eight receptions for 171 yards plus three TDs, and Joe, who made eight catches for 117 yards.

PCC plays its final home game at Robinson Stadium this season this Saturday, Oct. 27 in a 6 p.m. Pacific kickoff against Santa Monica College.

PCC GRIDIRON NOTES: In one of the more bizarre plays early in the fourth quarter, Murillo raced after a bad punt snap over his head and before he could get to the ball Pierce's King Demitri appeared to kick the ball and then recovered it in the end zone. Instead of either a recovered punt by Demitri or a touchdown, the referees called a rare illegal touching of the ball flag on Demitri for a 15-yard first down penalty for PCC. The Lancers ended up with the ball on their own 48-yard line...Sullivan has raised his rushing total to 605 yards after seven games in his quest for 1,000 yards...PCC scored 40 or more points for the third time this season, but won the other two games...The Lancers made 23 first downs to Pierce's 21...The Pasadena defense hasn't made an interception since its week 2 win at Glendale, a streak of five straight games without a pickoff. The team has forced only five turnovers all season.