GLENDALE — When it came time to run a do-or-die attempt at a two-point conversion against Los Angeles Pierce College on Saturday night, the Glendale Community College football team called the right play to pick up three yards.
Problem was, the Vaqueros needed eight and suffered their second straight Pacific Conference American Division loss, 42-40, at Sartoris Field when quarterback Steven Batista was stopped short of the goal with no time left in the fourth quarter.
“We just didn’t have enough to finish,” said Vaqueros Coach John Rome, whose team rallied from a 35-14 deficit it faced early in the third quarter. “We didn’t play well enough defensively. We gave up so much early, it was hard to overcome.”
Batista, who completed 18 of 32 attempts for 305 yards and four touchdowns, led Glendale on a 75-yard touchdown drive in just 27.4 seconds — the final seconds of regulation — hitting Eugene Gandara in the back right corner of the end zone as time expired.
Needing two more points to force overtime after an extra-point attempt had been missed and an apparent safety subsequently awarded to Glendale was overturned earlier in the third quarter, the Vaqueros lined up at the three-yard line, but were flagged for having 12 men on the field before they could get a play off.
Backed up five yards, the snap went to Batista in the shotgun, who attempted to run it straight back up the middle, to no avail.
“That was something we had been working on all year,” Rome said. “Of course we liked it better from the three than we did from the eight.”
The Vaqueros (0-6) fell behind, 14-0, inside the first eight minutes of the first quarter and battled to catch up all evening. They still trailed by two touchdowns at the half and saw Pierce (4-2) march 85 yards in 15 plays to take a 35-14 lead at the 9:31 mark of the third quarter.
Omar Sanchez Berrara (82 yards in 16 carries) scored on a four-yard run at the 5:16 mark, but Glendale could pull no closer than 35-20 when the extra-point failed.
Then, the Vaqueros appeared to have recouped the point and then some when Pierce’s Hakeem Cartwright muffed the kickoff into the end zone and tried to return it from the end zone, where he was tackled by DaVeon Samuel. It was initially ruled a safety before being changed to a touchback.
“How important was the bad snap on the extra-point?” said Rome, whose team committed 15 penalties for 112 yards compared to Pierce’s five for 55 yards. “How devastating was it that we didn’t get that safety?
“I thought [the officiating] was dubious at best. I thought there was a lot of times that the penalties should have been evened out and they really weren’t.”
Still, the Vaqueros kept battling, pulling to within 35-27 at the 14:52 mark of the fourth quarter on a 26-yard connection over the middle from Batista to Patrick Donahue (nine catches for 181 yards) and answering the Brahma’s ensuing score with a nine-yard Batista-Donahue hookup at the 6:33 mark to stay within one score at 42-34.
Glendale’s defense then kept its chances alive by forcing punts on Pierce’s next two possessions.
“I think we played a little better defensively tonight,” Rome said.