NORTHEAST GLENDALE — Having played on nearly even terms with one of the elite teams in Southern California throughout most of the first half, things quickly unraveled in the third quarter for the Glendale Community College football team on Saturday night.
It's a quarter that Glendale college Coach John Rome would just as soon forget after he saw the Vaqueros commit three turnovers that were all cashed into touchdowns. In the process, the Vaqueros also lost starting quarterback Kevin Hunter to an unknown injury following an interception in which he made a tackle and was lost for the remainder of the contest.
"We felt very good with the way we played in the first half and then things changed quickly in the third quarter," Rome said after Glendale suffered a 41-17 nonconference home loss against Allan Hancock at Sartoris Field.
Hancock (4-0) held a 21-17 halftime lead, leaving Glendale (0-4) with hope that it might be in line for a possible upset. Less than five minutes into the third quarter, those hopes faded.
Hancock defender Masson Blow intercepted Hunter's pass at the Glendale 40-yard line and returned it to the 15, where he collided with Hunter, a Burbank High graduate, near the sideline with 6:40 remaining in the quarter.
Hunter, a sophomore, was removed from the game and was being treated by the training staff when Hancock standout running back Cameron Artis-Payne scored on a six-yard run to give the Bulldogs, who came into the game ranked No. 7 in the latest California Community College state poll, a 27-17 lead with 5:19 left.
"We had a lot of confidence going [into that possession] with the way we had played earlier," said Rome, who added it wasn't clear if Hunter, who completed 14 of 23 passes for 140 yards and one touchdown, would return for the Vaqueros' Pacific Conference American Division opener against host L.A. Valley College at 6 p.m. Saturday. "We then lose Kevin, who is our go-to guy, our leader."
The Vaqueros tried to rally without Hunter in the lineup and appeared to catch a break when Glendale's Miguel Enciso recovered a muffed punt at the Glendale 48-yard line on the ensuing possession with 3:15 remaining in the third period. However, Glendale fumbled at the Hancock 44 on the following play, setting the stage for another Hancock touchdown when quarterback Brandon Jeffries tossed a 36-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Shane Henderson (six catches for 154 yards and three touchdowns) to extend the lead to 33-17 with 2:42 remaining.
Glendale backup quarterback Darren Orsbern then threw an interception that was returned for a 40-yard touchdown by Blow and closed out the scoring with one minute left in the third quarter.
Glendale sophomore running back Joseph Wiggan, who rushed for 89 yards in 18 carries and one touchdown, said the Vaqueros couldn't recover following the loss of Hunter.
"We were ready to come out and we liked the score being close at halftime," said Wiggan, a Burroughs graduate. "We had some good things to build off from the first half and then Kevin gets hurt."
The Bulldogs took a 7-0 lead on a one-yard run by running back Bobby Collins with 10:57 left in the first quarter.
Glendale's Scott Plescia recovered a fumble at the Vaqueros' 45-yard line with 1:03 remaining in the first quarter. The Vaqueros capitalized on the miscue when Wiggan scored on an eight-yard run to tie it at 7 with 12:40 remaining the second stanza.
Henderson then caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Jeffries on third and goal to give the Bulldogs a 14-7 lead with 5:20 left in the first half.
The Vaqueros evened the score at 14 when Hunter tossed a 54-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Darren Morrow with 6:16 left.
On Hancock's ensuing drive, Glendale linebacker Issac McDuffie caused a fumble with a sack. The ball was scooped up by teammate Chris Schmidt, a lineman, near midfield with 3:48 remaining.
Glendale kicker Helio Guerra then converted on a 27-yard field goal to give the Vaqueros a 17-14 lead with 1:05 left.
Ten seconds later, on the first play of the ensuing drive by the Bulldogs, Henderson caught a 60-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback T.J. Jordan to make it 21-17.
Artis-Payne rushed for 101 yards rushing in 14 carries for the Bulldogs, who posted 373 yards of total offense.
Glendale running back Timothy Broughton finished with 67 yards in 15 attempts. The Vaqueros finished with 310 yards of total offense.
Glendale defensive back Osa Aikhionbare registered a team-best 13 tackles. Glendale linebacker Nick Leon, a Crescenta Valley graduate, collected 10 tackles.