GLENDALE — While still yet to crack the win column this season, the Glendale Community College football team could at least claim some small victories following its 44-28 road loss to Allan Hancock at Righetti High on Saturday night.
In contrast to their previous defeats this year, the Vaqueros (0-4) started the game strong and were very much in it at the end, although two late touchdowns by the Bulldogs would somewhat obscure that fact in the box score.
"We fought hard," said Glendale Coach John Rome, whose team held leads at halftime and in the third quarter, then fell behind, but got back to within a field goal on a 15-play, 80-yard drive capped by a three-yard touchdown run from Joshua Nakamoto with 4:48 left in the fourth. "We came away from this one surely disappointed with the loss, but I'm extremely pleased with our ability to fight back and compete."
Trailing, 31-28, nearing the 3:00 mark, Glendale had what looked to be a sure touchdown pass dropped to set up third down, then took a sack inside its own 10-yard line. With the clock ticking under 3:00, the Vaqueros went for it on fourth down, but couldn't convert and saw the Bulldogs (2-2) go up, 37-28, on a one-yard rush by Jonathan Ligsey with 1:40 left.
On Glendale's next possession, quarterback Steven Batista (19 for 37 for 225) tossed his only interception of the evening, but it was a game-clincher, as Favian Vargas returned it 55 yards for a touchdown at the 1:05 mark.
"We were pressing at the end, trying to make something happen," Rome said.
Glendale scored first, taking a 7-0 lead with 5:24 left in the second quarter on a two-yard run by Ra'Shon Harper (39 yards in 15 carries), who was part of a three-back rushing platoon with Nakamoto (46 yards in nine carries) and Antonio Bray (38 yards in 11 carries).
It looked as though Allan Hancock would take a 10-7 lead into halftime after converting on a field goal with just 16 seconds remaining in the second quarter, but the Vaqueros were able to get the lead back, 14-10, on a 55-yard touchdown pass from Batista to Renaldo Reyes completed as time expired in the first half.
"I was very happy, for the most part with Steven Batista's play, I thought it was pretty good," Rome said. "I was very happy with Antonio Bray and Ra'Shon Harper. Our running backs did a great job.
"This is a team that's getting better every week, we just don't have any Ws to show for it at this point, but we're getting better every week."
Allan Hancock led, 17-14, after scoring on its first possession of the second half, but Nakamoto would give Glendale one more lead with a nine-yard scoring run to finish off a six-play 70-yard drive at the 7:21 mark of the third quarter.
The Bulldogs built a 10-point lead with touchdowns in the final minute of the third quarter and at the 11:28 mark of the fourth.
The Vaqueros' defense held Allan Hancock to three third-down conversions in 11 chances, a major breakthrough for a unit that had struggled in that aspect, and got fumble recoveries from Zian Jones and Cornell McTier, who also blocked a kick.
Glendale High graduate Jean Khajarian had a team-high 12 tackles and Eddie Smith and Devon Jackson each finished with seven.
"Defensively, we forced turnovers and the kicking game was great, for the most part," Rome said. "I'm just pleased there was improvement all the way around. Not enough to beat a team the stature of Hancock, but good enough to put a scare into them."