Productive opening half catapults Glendale college football past L.A. Valley

The Glendale Community College football team took on L.A. Valley College in a conference game Saturday.
(File Photo)

Coming off a bye week following its first win of the football season, Glendale Community College was hoping to keep the momentum going on the road at Los Angeles Valley College.

Against the Monarchs, Glendale jumped out to a big lead and rode it the rest of the way to a 40-23 victory on the road Saturday night in American Metro Conference play.

“We fought really hard and came out on top at the end,” Glendale defensive standout Michael Stanford said.

After dropping its first six games of the season, Glendale (2-6, 2-2 in conference) now has a two-game winning streak with two more games to play.

“We’d like to finish strong,” Glendale coach John Rome said. “When you have struggled, you certainly don’t want to say everything is written off. A victory still represents a hard week of work.”

The first quarter could not have gone better for Glendale, thanks in no small part to miscues by the hosts.

“A lot of our [successes] had to do with [the Monarchs’] mistakes,” Rome said. “We capitalized on them early and got ahead and then put it in coast.”

The Vaqueros received the opening kickoff and marched down the field 60 yards in nine plays in 5:03 for the first of 31 unanswered points in the first half. The opening drive was capped by a two-yard run off-tackle right for a touchdown by Vaqueros running back Elijah Washington.

On the first snap of the game for L.A. Valley (3-6, 2-3), the Monarchs botched a handoff and Vaqueros’ Gabriel Bermudez recovered the loose ball. On the next snap, Glendale scored again. Starting quarterback Jorge Amaya threw into double coverage, but successfully connected with Jalen Lawrence amid the crowd for a 32-yard score.

Amaya finished 10 of 13 for 126 yards. He did not play in the second half.

The Glendale defense then held strong, denying the hosts a first down. The Monarchs lined up for a punt, but without a long snapper on the roster, it forced their punter to be closer to the line of scrimmage than would normally be the case. Stanford took advantage and tackled the punter before he could get off the kick. That set up his team with a short field at the L.A. Valley 22.

Glendale made good on the chance, but not without a lucky bounce. Amaya ran the ball up the middle for a 20-yard gain, but fumbled the ball going in. However, Devon Williams recovered the ball at the 2-yard line to retain possession. On the next play, Tru Fugate went left for a two-yard rushing touchdown to give the Vaqueros a 21-0 lead.

Stanford struck again after the Vaqueros forced another punting situation. This time the sophomore blocked the punt and returned it 22 yards to the 8-yard line. Glendale could not get a first down, but still came away with points when Kevin McCollum booted home a 33-yard field goal to make it 24-0.

“We have been planning that all week,” Stanford said. “They always slid the protection to the right, so it is basically a straight shot. I got lucky twice.”

On the ensuing Monarch possession, Stanford struck once more when he picked off L.A. Valley starting quarterback Andrew Galvan. The Vaqueros soon turned the Monarch miscue into points when Washington pounded the ball in for a two-yard rushing touchdown and a 31-0 advantage. On the drive, Amaya converted a fourth down and short with a quarterback sneak.

With 6:03 left in the first half, L.A. Valley got on the board with a 33-yard field goal by Alec Messing, as the teams went into halftime with the Vaqueros enjoying a 31-3 lead.

The Messing field goal was the start of 17 unanswered points by the hosts to keep the game interesting. L.A. Valley scored two touchdowns in the third quarter while shutting out Glendale in the period. Both scores were touchdown passes by Galvan, both from 11 yards out. In the third, the Monarchs also had two long return touchdowns negated by penalties.

“We kind of dried up at the end,” Rome said. “I didn’t want to make the big mistake.”

Glendale broke the Monarchs’ run of points with 8:51 to go. Washington ran the ball in from eight yards out for his third touchdown of the contest. The sophomore finished with a team-high 55 yards in 17 carries.

L.A. Valley scored once more on an 11-yard scramble by Galvan. However, softening the blow for Glendale, Vaqueros’ Christian Alvarez blocked the extra-point kick attempt and returned it the length of the field for a final points of the contest.

After the game, a multitude of Vaqueros players and coaches lined up to talk to and exchange hugs with Monarchs head coach Lester Towns. Until late last summer, Towns was the Vaqueros’ defensive coordinator.

“We are starting a little rivalry with our former coach, coach Towns,” Amaya said. “We wanted to get this one.”