For Golden West, it was a case of the rally that never was, as the Rustlers lost to Long Beach, 21-7, in a Mission Conference football game Saturday at Orange Coast.
The teams were tied, 7-7, for most of the second half before Long Beach finally pushed ahead, 14-7, with 3 minutes 24 seconds left.
After the ensuing kickoff, Golden West had the ball on its 25. But thoughts of a big drive did not last long. Golden West quarterback Bob Ioja went back to pass but was hit by Long Beach's Robert Gilmore. The ball went a few yards forward, where it was caught by Fia Ili at the Golden West 22 with 3:10 left.
Long Beach's Kevin McKenzie scored on a two-yard run with 55 seconds left to give Long Beach a 21-7 lead.
Long Beach (2-0) came into the game ranked No. 20 in the nation by the J.C. Grid-Wire. Golden West (1-1) was No. 13.
Golden West had two prime chances to score earlier in the fourth quarter but failed.
The Rustlers mounted an 81-yard drive to get to the Long Beach 15 early in the final quarter, but running back Eddie Benson fumbled. Ili recovered the ball.
The Rustlers got possession four plays later when defensive back Parham Ghorban intercepted a pass and returned it 12 yards to the Long Beach 25.
But from there, things went backward.
Golden West lost a yard on a pass play, then five more on a penalty. After an incomplete pass, Ioja was sacked for a 12-yard loss. Golden West then punted with 7:47 left.
The Vikings drove for the go-ahead touchdown, which came when tight end LaVar Ball caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Ray Domingo with 3:24 left.
Golden West fumbled on the first play of the game and Long Beach took over at the Golden West 45. Pat Norris scored on a four-yard run nine plays later and Long Beach was ahead, 7-0.
Golden West tied the score on a five-yard run by Vance Senteno with 55 seconds left in the first half.