GLENDALE — At some point, the wall had to give way to the stampede.
Glendale Community College football’s defense provided as much as it could in the first half, but eventually caved to Moorpark College’s onslaught in the second half of a nonconference game Saturday at Sartoris Field.
The Vaqueros gave up three passing touchdowns in the second half and fell to the Raiders, 24-19, to remain winless on the season.
“Every game is a stepping stone. Every game is a climb up the ladder,” Glendale Community College football coach Jim Rome said. “We learned today. We wanted to fight. We wanted to compete. I don’t think we competed the first two games, but we competed all the way through. We fought until the very last play of this game, and when that happens, you have a tendency to grow from it.”
In contrast to its second-half run, GCC (0-3) held Moorpark to five field goal attempts in the first half. The Raiders (1-2) made only one.
“We’re playing a national team, this is a team from an upper division,” Rome said. “To battle them like that; I’m not as angry as normal.”
GCC quarterback Nathan Eldridge completed nine of 20 passes with an interception, two touchdown throws and 146 yards.
Quinn Sheaffer scored one touchdown and ran 54 yards in 11 carries, while receiver Tyree O’Neil led the Vaqueros with five receptions for 95 yards and a score.
“We definitely started slow,” Eldridge said. “I think it’s something we have to improve moving forward. We have to come out with the same energy. We can’t wait until the fourth quarter to suddenly get going, but I feel if we can come out with that same intensity, we’ll be solid.”
It took awhile for the Vaquero offense to wake up.
Glendale went four-and-out on each of its first two drives, but Sheaffer’s rushing efforts helped position the Vaqueros near the midfield mark.
Eldridge found O’Neil for a 54-yard, catch-and-go touchdown for the first score of the game with 6:41 left in the first quarter.
However, the Vaqueros celebrations were short-lived. The Raiders blocked the point-after attempt and ran it down field to cut the lead to 6-2.
Though the Glendale offense slumped during the first two drives, the Vaquero defense put up a fight, forcing the Raider offense to settle for back-to-back field-goal attempts that both went wide left.
“A big play is contagious,” Eldridge said. “Once special teams did something good, that just spreads throughout the sideline.”
Nearing the end of the first quarter, the Raiders found good field position on the Vaquero 8-yard line, but were forced to settle for a 24-yard field goal that saw the Glendale lead cut the lead to 6-5.
Again, the Glendale offense’s time on the field was short, but with 10:46 left in the half, the Vaquero linemen opened up the middle for Sheaffer who embarked on a 43-yard run to the end zone and a 13-5 Glendale lead.
“We have some big-play ability, we’re just not very consistent with it,” Rome acknowledged.
Eldridge and Glendale had good position again at the Moorpark 35, but the quarterback threw an interception down the middle with five minutes remaining in the half.
Again, the Glendale defense came up with a stop and forced a 28-yard field goal attempt that was blocked with less than two minutes in the half.
Moorpark responded with a 58-yard completion that set up a 34-yard field goal attempt with seconds left in the first half. But the slump continued and the Raiders missed out on another three points, as the ball hit right post.
Neither team made an immediate impact at the start of the second half, but Moorpark worked its way down to the Glendale 8-yard line, where Ethan Postler threw a touchdown pass with 4:51 left in the quarter to cut the Glendale lead to 13-11.
The Raiders ran the clock down on their next drive and ultimately worked their way down the field for a three-yard touchdown run with less than a second remaining in the third.
The Glendale defense nearly smothered the Raiders defense into a punt on third-and-20 situation, but a pass-interference call pulled Moorpark half the distance to the goal. The Raiders scored three plays later on a 14-yard pass to boost their lead to 24-13 with 6:34 left.
“Their third-down conversions were pretty high at some point in the game,” Rome said.
A sack and incompletion put the Vaqueros in a fourth-and-10 predicament late, but Eldridge catapulted a 34-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Lawrence with 4:34 left in the game. Glendale failed on the two-point conversion attempt and trailed Moorpark, 24-19.