Football Finishes On Good Note, 15-14, Over SBCC

Lancer Darnell Williams, seen in last week's win over LA Harbor, rushed for 146 yards in Saturday's season finale.
Lancer Darnell Williams, seen in last week's win over LA Harbor, rushed for 146 yards in Saturday's season finale.

The final record will read for posterity 4-6 overall and 2-3 in the SCFA American Pacific League. Yet, the Pasadena City College football team was very close to being an undefeated division champion and headed to a probable postseason bowl game. Instead, the Lancers settled for a nice finish to the 2018 season, rallying from 14-0 down to beat host Santa Barbara City College, 15-14, Saturday afternoon.

PCC lost its APL opener to eventual undefeated champion Allan Hancock in overtime, and then lost to both Pierce and Santa Monica by 1-point margins the next two weeks. But against SBCC, the Lancers got a 1-point margin in their favor. 

Trailing 14-0 after the opening quarter, PCC used a takeaway to begin its comeback. Lineman David Vardanian forced a fumble, recovered by linebacker Taiyo Gibbs at the SBCC 45 yard-line. After running back Darnell Williams had carries of 13 and 9 yards, fellow RB Salman Gurung broke free for a 16-yard touchdown scamper. Kicker Fernando Murillo's extra point cut the deficit to 14-7.

The score remained that way as Santa Barbara pinned the Lancers at their own 4 on a 36-yard punt by Martin Ahlstroem. With 11:18 left to play, PCC went on a march to victory. Williams ran four times for 30 yards, then Gurung followed with a pair of runs for 10 yards.

After Williams carried again for eight yards and quarterback Mario Bobadilla hit David Telles for an 8-yard pass into Vaqueros' territory, Gurung took off on a 41-yard gallop inside the 10. Gurung then capped an 11-play, 96-yard scoring drive with a 9-yard TD run with only 5:59 remaining. 

At that point PCC head coach Steve Mojarro decided to go for the lead and the win, and got it when Gurung broke the line for a 2-point conversion run that proved to be the deciding points. 

The Lancers rushing game again (17th in the state) was outstanding as Williams carried 23 times for 146 yards and Gurung, who accounted for 14 of the team's points, also broke the 100-yard mark with 117 yards in 17 attempts. In all, the Lancers netted 259 rushing yards in 51 plays for a 5.1 per yards a carry average. The ball control offense resulted in 36 minutes in time of possession. 

Pasadena's defense came up big. With Santa Barbara driving deep into PCC territory to the 19 in the final minute of the second quarter, Drew Pendleton intercepted a pass by Vaqueros quarterback Franco De Luca in the end zone. Then in the third quarter with SBCC at the Lancers 30, De Luca fired a pass toward the end zone, but Forest Fajardo picked it off at the 3. Both Pendleton and Fajardo were wide receivers all season but moved to defense the last few weeks to help a maligned secondary.

Linebacker Kobe Quiroga led the team in tackles with nine while Vardanian added eight tackles.  

PCC GRIDIRON NOTES: The Lancers closed the '18 season on a 2-game winning streak and were better than .500 on the road at 3-2...The Lancers led the state this season in time of possession at just under 35 minutes per game...Mojarro has a 9-11 overall record thus far in two years directing the program...Vardanian led the team in tackles this season with a modest 49...Telles was the team's receiving leader with 37 catches, the kick and punt returns leader, and the all-purpose yardage leader at 124.9 yards per game...Fajardo led the team in touchdowns/scoring (eight, 48 points) and Gurung was second (seven TDs, 44 points)...RB Sultaan Sullivan, who did not play the final game due to injury, won the team's rushing title with 688 yards in 115 carries over nine games...Quarterback Mario Bobadilla, who had a diminished role the last few weeks with the team's rushing attack so effective, led the squad in passing with 1,433 yards and 15 touchdowns...Lineman Hector Palacios led PCC in sacks with six.