SOUTHEAST GLENDALE — Five yards away from a potential game-tying touchdown, the Glendale Community College football team may have fumbled away its best chance of winning this season.
A botched exchange between third-string quarterback Anthony Carter and running back Joe Wiggan at the five-yard line was recovered by Los Angeles Pierce College with a little over a minute left and preserved a Brahmas' 28-20 Pacific Conference American Division win Saturday night at Sartoris Field.
The victory delivered L.A. Pierce its first win, as the Brahmas improved to 1-5 overall and 1-1 in conference play. Glendale dropped to 0-6 and 0-2 this season.
"There were a lot of guys coming through and there was a lot of pressure on the line," said Wiggan, who rushed 21 times for 115 yards and a score. "They were blitzing a lot of guys, but we were expecting that. This is just frustrating."
The fumble was the sixth lost (seventh overall) for the Vaqueros.
The attempted hand-off came with 1:03 remaining in the fourth quarter on a third and goal.
Moments earlier, it appeared Glendale scored when sophomore running back Timothy Broughton (21 carries for 99 yards) punched in a four-yard touchdown with 1:52 remaining, only to have the score nullified on a holding call.
"We have a good team, but we just continue to struggle in key moments," Glendale Coach John Rome said. "We struggled with untimely penalties, we struggled with fumbles and third-down stops."
The Vaqueros surrendered two touchdowns in the second half – one on a Josh Johnson five-yard touchdown carry and the other a 33-yard touchdown from quarterback Jake Basmajian to receiver Martin Hill for 33 yards.
The Hill reception came with 9:06 left in the fourth quarter and put the Brahmas up, 28-14.
Glendale responded with a three-play, 34-yard drive capped by a four-yard touchdown by Omar Barrera-Sanchez, which after a blocked extra point, brought the Vaqueros within 28-20 with 8:10 remaining.
Glendale needed to drive only a short distance thanks to a 55-yard kick return from Osa Aikhionbare.
The Vaqueros' only other score of the second half came with 13:26 left in the fourth on a nine-yard carry from Barrera-Sanchez.
The visiting Brahmas led, 14-7, in a wild first half.
With the score tied at seven, on second and 34, Vaqueros' quarterback Darren Orsbern (who later left the game with an undisclosed injury) fumbled a potential handoff that was recovered by Pierce's Marcus Jenkins at the Glendale 33.
The mistake proved costly, as the Brahmas scored two plays later on an eight-yard carry from sophomore running back Greg Wanamaker with 5:24 left in the second quarter for his second touchdown.
The Brahmas' second score nearly mirrored their first touchdown, as sophomore defensive tackle Lucas Melo stripped and sacked Orsbern near midfield and the lost ball was recovered by Pierce's Marquel Combs at the Vaqueros' 38.
Six plays later, Wanamaker scored on a four-yard pitch.
Glendale's scoring drive was set up by an offensive error from the Brahmas, who had a 51-yard pass from Basmajian to Johnson called back because of an illegal block.
The penalty forced Pierce to punt, as the Vaqueros took over at their 43.
After a run for minus two yards, Omar Barrera-Sanchez broke a 47-yard run down the sideline before eventually being pushed out of bounds at the 12.
Wiggan then took the next two carries, scoring from five yards out on his final touch with 13:50 left in the second quarter.
"We knew this was going to be a good game, it always is with Glendale," Pierce Coach Efrain Martinez said. "Now we just have to find a way to carry over this momentum."