The Pasadena City College football team's defense rose to the occasion with five interceptions, two sacks, a blocked 2-point conversion return, and even a defensive lineman scoring on a touchdown pass in leading the Lancers to a 30-19, SCFA American Pacific League victory over Pierce at Robinson Stadium Saturday evening.
PCC (3-4 overall, 1-1 in APL play) ended a 4-game losing streak as cornerback Kaydon Spens made two of the teams' pickoffs while one each were turned in by Jamal Tims, Jeremiah Hartfield, and linebacker Mark Navarro. When Pierce took a 13-7 lead in the third quarter, the ensuing extra point kick was blocked by safety Andy Reyes as Amir Davis scooped up the ball and returned it the final 90 yards for a 2-point defensive conversion.
In a sloppy first half that saw both teams combine for eight turnovers, PCC and Pierce were tied at the intermission at 7-7. Tims stepped in front of a pass by Brahmas backup quarterback Andrew Young for an interception at midfield that helped set up the Lancers first score. PCC second quarterback Edward Norton marched the Lancers 43 yards in five plays aided by his runs of 13 and 9 yards. On third-and-one, Darnell Williams took a handoff up the middle and raced 20 yards for the game's first touchdown with 9:36 left in the second quarter.
Late in the third quarter, a blitz and 9-yard sack by Tims forced a Pierce punt from its own 10. A 35-yard punt by Pierce's Williams Pena was returned 15 yards by Lancers wide receiver/returner David Telles to give PCC great field position at the Brahmas' 30. A 10-yard carry by running back Salman Gurung and a 17-yard leaping catch by Telles on a pass by starting QB Kade Wentz put the ball in the red zone. Brought in as a fullback, defensive lineman Robbie Kindle got open for a 3-yard TD pass from Wentz. Bracamonte Bucio's second of four extra point kicks regained PCC's lead at 16-13 just 2:02 into the fourth quarter. Pasadena went on to score 21 points in the period.
On the next series, Pierce advanced as far as the PCC 29, but a 6-yard tackle for loss by saftey Shane Andrews was followed by Spens picking off a David McCullum pass and returning it 32 yards to the Pierce 43. Norton found Telles for a 36-yard bomb. Then Norton connected with a diving Ahmad Lipscomb in the end zone for a 19-yard TD pass and a 23-13 lead with 7:20 left in the game.
The Lancers defense kept the momentum going on the next possession when Hartfield intercepted a McCullum pass at the PCC 45 and raced 55 yards for an apparent TD. However, a taunting penalty on the Lancers voided the score and gave PCC the ball at the Pierce 20. With Wentz back at QB, the signal caller broke through on an option play and raced 19 yards for paydirt that capped the scoring.
"Our defense has been carrying us the whole year and they have been the backbone of our team," said PCC head coach Steven Mojarro. "They played with heart v. Pierce and while the statistics don't show it, I feel like we still have one of the best defenses in the state. It feels great to get a win especially at home in front all our parents and school support. These kids work so hard and it's a group that won't give up even though we were down in our win-loss record."
Linebacker Drew Pendleton had a big performance with 14 tackles, including 10 solos. Navarro had eight tackles as he leads the APL with 48 tackles. Hartfield added a sack, three tackles, and pass breakup to go with his team-leading fourth pickoff while Alejandro Palacios recovered a fumble. Andrews made seven tackles.
Offensively, Norton led the ground game with 67 yards in 12 carries while Gurung added 50 yards in six attempts. Telles made five catches for 63 yards. Pierce outgained PCC in total offense, 354-260, but it was the Lancers defensive big plays that led to the triumph.
Pasadena is #4 in the state currently in rushing at 203.4 yards per game, but gained 175 in 40 carries in this contest. PCC averaged 7.2 yards a carry a week earlier in the Allan Hancock defeat (258 total on the ground).
Next Saturday, Nov. 2, the Lancers hope to even their record to .500 with an APL game at Santa Monica College. The afternoon kickoff is at 1 p.m. The Corsairs are 2-5 overall, but have just 10 points in two APL losses. Twice, SMC has been shut out, including Saturday's 27-0 loss to first-place Hancock.