Close Not Good Enough For Football In Another Late Loss

Lancer Salman Gurung breaks through a SMC tackler on his way to one of his two touchdowns at Robinson Stadium Saturday evening, photo by Richard Quinton.
Lancer Salman Gurung breaks through a SMC tackler on his way to one of his two touchdowns at Robinson Stadium Saturday evening, photo by Richard Quinton.

If football success were weighed on statistical advantage, ball control, effort, and grades for competitiveness, the 2018 Pasadena City College football team would likely earn an A from game analysts.and fans. But alas it's the final result and the win-loss record that determines a team's success. In that area, the Lancers are not making the grade.

For the third time in three SCFA American Pacific League games, the Lancers held the lead going into the final few minutes only to be caught at the finish. This time it was Santa Monica College scoring on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Paul Davis to Jaden McBride with 1:14 left and a blocked field goal of a 35-yard attempt by kicker Fernando Murillo with 18 seconds remaining that sent the Lancers to a 28-27 defeat at Robinson Stadium Saturday night. It was PCC's second straight 1-point loss, following an overtime loss v. Allan Hancock, and extended the team's losing streak to six games. 

PCC (2-6 overall, 0-3 in the APL) outgained the Corsairs (4-4, 2-1) in total offense, 444 yards to 266, and in first downs, 26-19. Pasadena had its best rushing game of the season with two running backs breaking the 100-yard mark and neither the team's top rusher Sultaan Sullivan. Freshman Salman Gurung (Alhambra High) emerged to total 166 yards in 19 carries and two touchdowns and first-year back Darnel Williams (Burbank HS) gained 130 yards in 23 carries. The sophomore transfer Sullivan only had two touches and still was effective with 32 yards while freshman Moses Gonzalez added 14 yards in just two attempts. The Lancers netted 326 yards in 51 rushing plays for a 6.4 average and 19 first downs.

Pasadena also played without injured starting quarterback Mario Bobadilla as letterman reserve Isaia Ah-Hing was at the helm the entire game. Ah-Hing completed 13 of 20 passes for 118 yards with one touchdown and one interception. 

SMC initally jumped ahead 14-0 on its first two series culminating on touchdown passes of 28 and 56 yards from quarterback Paul Davis to running back Trevor Nofoa. PCC cut the lead to 14-13 on an 11-yard TD pass from Ah-Hing to sophomore wide receiver Forest Fajardo and a pair of field goals of 23 and 40 yards by the lefty-footed freshman Murillo (Arcadia High). Santa Monica built the lead to 21-13 by halftime.

In the second half, the Lancers used their ground attack, led by Gurung to eventually take a 27-21 lead. At 5:41 into the third quarter, Gurung broke loose for the longest carry of the game, a 31-yard touchdown jaunt. In the fourth quarter, PCC stopped SMC on downs at the Lancers 35. From that point, Williams went to work with runs of 12, 11 and 8 yards. Gurung closed out an 8-play, 65-yard drive by powering in for a 17-yard TD.  Murillo's third extra point kick gave PCC its first and only lead at 27-21 with 9:34 left in the game.

With 6:35 to go, PCC punter Jonathan Borashan boomed a season-best 55-yard punt as Santa Monica took possesssion from its 35-yard llne. The Corsairs faced a 4th-down-and-3 at the PCC 35 but kept the series going on a 12-yard first down run by Davis on a broken play. With 1:14 remaining, SMC scored on a bizarre 25-yard yard TD pass as Davis' throw deflected off one receiver and landed into the hands of Jaden McBride in the end zone. William Romero kicked the extra point to break the tie and regain the Corsairs lead at 28-27.

Pasadena seemed poised for another comeback as wide receiver/returner David Telles found some blocks and returned the ensuing kickoff 52 yards into SMC territory. Williams bolted for a 14-yard run and then a 6-yard carry. Murillo, who in the past two weeks was 5-for-5 on FG attempts, tried to win it on a 35-yard attempt but Santa Monica's Chance Thomas got a hand on Murillo's try for the block that sealed PCC's fate. Thomas made an interception to stop another PCC series in the second quarter.

Santa Monica had a monster defensive game by state-leading tackler and linebacker Jordan Lawrence, who totaled 26 tackles (13 solos), including two sacks. Lawrence had 17 of his tackles by halftime.

For PCC, frosh defensive back Jeremiah Lugo (Arcadia HS) and rookie lineman Demir Fisher (Pasadena High) each made seven tackles while freshman DB Sebastian Ramos (Schurr HS) had five tackles, a sack, recovered a fumble and broke up a pass. Freshman defensive lineman Hector Palacios (Alemany) also added five tackles, including his team-leading fifth sack just before SMC's final touchdown. Sophomore cornerback Torus Stepney Jr. (Pasadena HS) broke up three passes.

The Lancers concluded their home schedule (1-4) and will play next Saturday, Nov. 3 at Los Angeles Harbor College in a 6 p.m. APL kickoff.

PCC GRIDIRON NOTES: Fajardo had fans excited as he went both ways in Saturday's game. He had five receptions for 58 yards and defensively made three tackles as a DB plus an outstanding break-up of a bomb pass by Davis. The sophomore leads the team in receiving (28 catches for 355 yards) and in scoring with seven TDs...Borashan averaged 42.3 yards on three punts...At one time, PCC was considered a rushing factory in the 1970s and later had a 2,000-yard rusher in PCC Sports Hall of Famer Jonathan Smith in 2001. This year, the Lancers are having their best rushing season since '01, averaging 188 yards a game. PCC is 18th in the state in rushing and ninth in the SCFA...Lugo has the team lead in tackles with 37, just one more than sophomore DL David Vardanian.