Ronnie Lopez, Glendale College's bruised and battered quarterback, attributed his team's 26-10 loss to L. A. Southwest in a Western State Conference game Saturday to a lack of execution, plain and simple.
But there were several reasons why Glendale was beaten in the Northern Division opener at Southwest.
The first was Cougars' quarterback Craig Manigo, the second was tailback William Jarrett and the third was wide receiver Ansel Littlejohn.
Those three players--along with a defense led by defensive back Barry Thomas--all played key roles as Southwest (5-0-1, 4-0-1 in conference play) remained undefeated.
Manigo, the No. 2-ranked passer in the conference, did not have an impressive outing statistically (eight of 15 passes for 84 yards and one touchdown), but his six-yard scoring pass to Littlejohn in the right corner of the end zone with 29 seconds left in the second quarter might have been the biggest play of the game.
It gave Southwest an 18-10 lead, and when Manigo and Littlejohn teamed again--this time in the left corner of the end zone--for the two-point conversion, the Cougars had all the momentum they needed heading into halftime.
The passes to Littlejohn (four receptions for 58 yards) were timing patterns in which Manigo lofted the ball and Littlejohn simply outleaped Glendale defensive backs Dennis Breshears (touchdown play) and Ron Morgan (conversion) for the scores.
"They just tell me to drop back five steps and lay it up there for him," Manigo said. "He's one of the fastest players in the conference, and there aren't many defensive backs that can stay with him."
Or jump as high.
Although Glendale (3-2-1, 3-1-1) shut out Littlejohn in the second half, Jarrett (23 carries for 121 yards) and the Cougars' defense took over.
Jarrett rushed for 64 yards in 12 carries after halftime as Southwest used a ball-control offense to put the game away.
Manigo scored on a two-yard sneak with 1:44 left in the third period to cap a 12-play, 65-yard drive, during which Jarrett carried five times for 23 yards and fullback Eric Gibbs had four carries for 22 yards.
"After watching them on film, we figured that we could run on them," Manigo said. "I wasn't surprised with our success."
Glendale ran the ball well in the first half (24 carries for 144 yards), but Vaquero turnovers led to Southwest's first two scores.
Lopez (nine of 22 for 96 yards, two interceptions), who was sacked three times, overthrew Pat Lynch at the Cougar 40 midway through the first quarter and Thomas returned the interception 60 yards through traffic for a touchdown and a 6-0 lead.
Two possessions later, Sean Hampton gained 10 yards before coughing up the ball on the Southwest 35, and the Cougars promptly marched 65 yards in nine plays, Jarrett ending the drive on a nine-yard run with 12:56 left in the second quarter.
Glendale narrowed the deficit to 12-7 on its next possession, driving 45 yards in seven plays. Wes Bender scored on a 12-yard run.
The Vaqueros' other score was a 47-yard field goal by David Bowen with 2:17 left in the second quarter.
Doug Dragomer gained 72 yards in 14 carries for Glendale.