LOS ANGELES — A near record breaking night of offensive firepower was the story line of the Glendale Community College football team’s last meeting with East Los Angeles College, but in escaping the Huskies’ stadium with a 33-28 win on Saturday, the Vaqueros were very much on the defensive.
East Los Angeles scored two touchdowns within a 3 minute 16 second span of the fourth quarter to cut a 20–point deficit to just five points and took possession of the ball once again at its own 20–yard line with just under two minutes left in the game. The Glendale college defense then woke up, took notice and held the Huskies in place for four downs — all pass attempts — capped by sophomore linebacker Kalii Robinson’s break up of a pass on fourth down with just over less than one minute left.
“We let them get two touchdowns and our backs were against the wall,” Robinson said. “We just had to come out and play as a team. If we didn’t, the scoreboard would have been way different and we would be 1-1.”
Instead, the Vaqueros, who got 214 yards and a touchdown in 29 carries from Jorge Chaidez and saw quarterback Stephen Miller pass for 171 yards and three touchdowns, are now 2-0 on the young season and probably a bit lucky not to get burned by a Huskies team they beat, 75-21, last season and, according to Coach John Rome, made the mistake of underestimating on Saturday.
“This is an improved ELAC team and we knew it, but it was gonna be hard to convince our players after what they had seen last year,” said Rome, whose team was coming off a big 51-29 win over West Los Angeles. “You could feel the edge in practice come off a little bit.”
“I do feel [there was letdown in the fourth quarter] and it’s natural with freshman, and we’re playing with eight, when you score and go up for them relax and say, ‘OK, now we’ve got the lead and it’s comfortable.’”
The Vaqueros’ 33-13 lead with just under 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter, acquired via a two-yard touchdown run by Willie Youngblood followed by a two-point conversion pass from Steve Batista to DeVon Rosa on a fake kick, did feel pretty comfortable at the time.
An interception by Osa Aikhionbare of Huskies quarterback Pedro Velasquez at the Glendale college six-yard line killed a red-zone drive with 2:33 left in the third quarter and Youngblood’s run gave the Vaqueros two unanswered touchdowns, coming on the heels of Chaidez’s 37-yard score with 9:59 left in the third.
But it took East L.A. less than two minutes and just five plays to march 61 yards and cut the lead to 33-21 at the 8:19 mark of the fourth on a 40-yard pass from Velasquez to Anthony Denham. After a three-and-out on the Vaqueros’ next possession, the Huskies’ Moses Gilchrist returned a punt 49 yards to the Glendale college 27-yard line, setting up a short field for a 21-yard Velasquez-Denham hookup at the 5:35 mark.
Glendale college reached the East L.A. 40-yard line on the following drive, but had to punt into the end zone for a touchback. Velasquez’s first pass attempt from the 20 was dropped in the flat, his throw to the sideline was caught out of bounds on the next play and his attempt on third down was inches from being picked off before Robinson’s breakup sealed the win.
“We had a lot of mistakes,” Robinson said. “We’ve got to work on our mistakes and get ready for Riverside [on Sept. 19]. We’re glad to get this win.”
There were plenty of positives for the Vaqueros to focus on, though, as the offense continues to develop behind the sophomore Miller and an offensive line that paved the way for 298 rushing yards between Chaidez, Youngblood and Anthony Dawkins.
“Steve Miller can make plays,” Rome said of his quarterback, who connected with Eudell Clayton (four catches, 78 yards) on touchdowns of 44 and 20 yards in the second quarter and hooked up with Brian Williams for a 24-yard score to give Glendale college a 19-7 lead with 3.6 seconds left in the first half.
But in the second half, Miller completed just one of seven attempts for 16 yards, as Chaidez got to work on his first 200-yard rushing performance as a Vaquero.
“We started off sluggish in the first half,” said Chaidez, who rushed for 150 yards in the second half. “In the second half, we got ourselves together, I told the O-line to keep pushing and we stuck through.
“I’m getting good chemistry with the line, they know how I run, so they’re getting good cutbacks for me and everything.”