MONTEREY PARK— Having left his usual position on the sideline in favor of calling in plays from the coaches' booth, Glendale Community College football Coach John Rome had a bird's eye view of his team's game at East Los Angeles College on Saturday.
Rome left the booth feeling sick to his stomach and, although he was high atop spacious Weingart Stadium, his condition after watching nearly three hours of a frustrating 33-13 nonconference loss to the Huskies had nothing to do with vertigo.
Unable to stop East L.A. and equally powerless at times to get out of their own way, the Vaqueros had nowhere to hide their mounting deficiencies on both sides of the ball as they absorbed a third straight loss to begin the season.
"It's one of those kind of games where you get a little frustrated and you try to do too much and the players try to do too much," Rome said. "Some guys want to get involved and jump in but they might not necessarily know what the plan is."
East L.A. (1-2) scored four unanswered touchdowns over a span beginning at the 4:12 mark of the second quarter — at which point it went up, 14-6 — through the 11:07 mark of the fourth quarter and, all the while, the Vaqueros continued to struggle with setting up their offensive plays, executing on passing downs, avoiding costly penalties and preventing third-down conversions defensively.
"We're just going to go back to basics and try to get these youngsters better for next week," Rome said. "That's all we can do; we've got to tackle better, run the football better and hopefully throw the football a little bit better and hopefully play with some more urgency on third down.
"Ultimately this is all my responsibility, but we're young and that's the hard part for us. We make mistakes that all young teams do."
New starter Kevin Hunter — a Burbank High graduate — former starter Steven Batista and third-stringer Greg Jimenez would all take a shot at playing quarterback on Saturday and the Vaqueros offense stalled frequently, but got on the board via a home-run play by freshman running back Antonio Bray.
After struggling to amass just 29 yards on their first four offensive series, the Vaqueros found the endzone on the first play from scrimmage of their first possession of the second quarter when Bray broke through a tackle five yards beyond the line of scrimmage and sprinted untouched for a 60-yard score to make it 7-6 at the 14:24 mark.
The extra-point attempt was missed on a play that saw Glendale send just 10 men to the field, one of several instances in which the Vaqueros had either too few or too many men on the field and were either penalized or had to burn a timeout to correct the situation.
On the night, Glendale committed 10 penalties resulting in 85 yards lost, including a penalty that negated a 70-yard touchdown pass from Batista to Bray on the first play of a drive with 3:23 left in the third quarter and the team down, 27-6.
Turnovers were again a thorn in the Vaqueros' side, with their quarterbacks combining to throw three picks to one touchdown and just 158 yards. And, the beleaguered defense didn't make its own job any easier by allowing the Huskies to convert on third down on nine out of 16 chances.
"The same things that have haunted us all season were the things that hurt us tonight," said Rome, whose own squad converted on third down only twice. "It doesn't matter who's playing quarterback, we just haven't had good quarterbacking; it's just a fact."
"Defensively, if we could make some stops on third down, I think that's where we probably need to improve."
Receiver Anthony Denham scored the Huskies' first touchdown on a one-handed grab in the corner of the end zone on a fade from Mike Oliver with just over nine minutes gone by in the game.
The Vaqueros later caught a break when an East L.A. drive into their territory ended with a fumble lost at the Glendale 27-yard line. But Glendale's ensuing possession was a three-and-out and the Huskies then needed just three plays to drive 50 yards for a 14-6 lead on Oliver's strike over the top to a wide-open Lanny Delgado from 16 yards out with 4:12 left in the first half.
"I thought the running game stepped up tonight and we did a pretty good job of running the football," said Rome, whose team outgained East L.A. in yards on the ground, 177-130, behind a team-high 96 from Bray. "The offensive line is young and we hope it keeps getting better. I saw some improvement tonight."