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Glendale college football sputters on offense in season-opening loss

LANCASTER — Glendale Community College football cracked the seal on a fresh new season with a road trip to take on Antelope Valley College.

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The Vaqueros might want to put the lid back on, as Glendale struggled on offense on the way to a 23-9 defeat at the hands of the host Marauders Saturday evening in a nonconference game.

“It was a very good defensive performance,” GCC coach John Rome said. “I thought our defense played tremendously. On special teams I thought we played pretty well. We struggled on offense.

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“Freshman quarterbacks, freshman mistakes.”

The quarterback position was a major problem for Glendale. Of the six Vaquero turnovers against Antelope Valley College (1-0), five were interceptions.

Nathan Eldridge started behind center, with Marcus Matchie also seeing major time on the field. Eldridge had a disastrous outing, finishing 0 of seven with four interceptions, all in a row. Matchie fared a little better, going seven of 20 for 83 yards and one interception.

“Our quarterback play has to improve,” said Rome, who has headed the program since 2008. “Our offensive line has to improve. We make a lot of mistakes and it compounds itself.”

Eldridge started at quarterback for Glendale and played the first quarter. The freshman finished the opening stanza with four incompletions, with the final three attempts intercepted by the Marauders. On the third offensive snap for the Vaqueros, Darrell Dorris picked off Eldridge and returned the ball deep into Glendale territory. Four plays later, Antelope Valley kicker Luke Coffman booted through a 25-yard field goal, making it 3-0 with 4:13 left in the opening quarter.

Deleon Smith picked Eldridge off on the next possession and returned it for a touchdown. However, those points were taken off the board due to a Marauder block in the back.

Nathaniel Myles snagged the third interception of the opening quarter and returned it to the 1-yard line.

However, from there the hosts went backward. The possession ended when Vaquero Khalid Wahezi scooped up an Antelope Valley fumble in the backfield and returned the ball 57 yards. The first points of the Vaquero season came on the first play of the second quarter when the visitors cashed in on the Wahezi recovery. Kicker Chris Wood, a product of Crescenta Valley High, kicked a 44-yard field goal to tie the score at 3.

“It was a really good feeling, especially since it was my first collegiate field goal,” Wood said. “I shudder-stepped a little but I was like, ‘Kick it, you can’t do anything about it.’ It went through and had a good five or 10 yards to spare. I was really happy.”

Matchie took over behind center for Glendale and played the second quarter. The freshman protected the ball, but was sacked three times as the Marauders bled through a porous line.

The game got exciting in the final minute of the opening half, which saw a touchdown by both teams.

Antelope Valley got it started, taking the ball at its own 5-yard line with 45 seconds to go. Tony Bell put up runs of 25 and 38 yards to get deep into Glendale territory. On the next play, Darrell Dorris found a wide-open Derrick McDonald on the left side for a 32-yard score, pushing the score to 10-3 for the hosts.

Glendale had an answer, however. Vaqueros’ Jalen Lawrence had a long return to set his team up 39 yards from pay dirt. Tyree O’Neil then snagged a 37-yard catch on the right sideline, coming down at the 2-yard line. Adayus Robertson got the first Glendale touchdown of the season with a two-yard run around the left side with less than a second left. Wood missed the point-after attempt and the score was, 10-9, Antelope Valley at half.

Eldridge came back and started the second half for Glendale. On his first attempt of the third he threw his fourth interception, with John Robinson being the recipient.

Two plays later, Bell picked his way up the middle for a 27-yard touchdown 29 seconds into the second half.

Bell led all rushers with 17 carries for 116 yards and the one touchdown.

On the ensuing possession, Glendale had Woods’ punt partially blocked, setting up the hosts 33 yards from the end zone. Soon after, the final touchdown of the contest was scored with 11:19 left in the third. Dorris fired the ball out to McDonald in the left side of the end zone. Two Vaqueros touched the ball, but it ended up in McDonald’s hands for the score.

McDonald led all receivers with five catches for 92 yards and the score.

The leading receiver for Glendale was O’Neil with three grabs for 49 yards. The leading rusher for the Vaqueros was Adayus Robertson with 13 carries for 36 yards.

Up next for the Vaqueros will be the home opener hosting Pasadena City College on Sept. 8. It will be a nonconference game, as the Lancers left the American Metro Conference.

“We’ve just got to get better. We’ve got to work to improve, especially up front,” Rome said.

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