GCC loses steam, game

NORTHEAST GLENDALE — Within a second half that saw the Glendale Community College football team unable to sustain a good start or protect a halftime lead, it was a gamble gone wrong and a bit of just plain bad luck that stood out most by the end of a 27-21 loss to Los Angeles Valley Saturday night at Sartoris Field.

The Vaqueros were held scoreless on a red-zone drive early in the third quarter that proved to be their last and best chance to tie or retake the lead and saw their fourth-quarter bid to rally derailed by an improbable interception in the Pacific Conference American Division opener for both teams.

"I think there's a couple things that led to our ineffectiveness in the second half," said Vaqueros Coach John Rome, whose team got first-half touchdowns on a 42-yard run by Joshua Nakamoto (113 yards in 16 carries) and a 25-yard pass from Steven Batista to Patrick Donahue to take a 14-10 lead into the half. "One, I think [L.A. Valley] played very good defense — lets' give them every bit of credit — but two, we didn't have the ball enough.

"We're not getting a lot of plays and I think that hurts us."

It was hard to fault the logic behind taking a stab at scoring the go-ahead touchdown at the 5:11 mark of the third quarter after the Monarchs had taken a 17-14 lead on their first possession of the half, especially when the turnover on downs left the Monarchs backed up against their own end zone and they ended up punting it away after three plays anyway.

"I thought the field position would outweigh any negative effects at that point," Rome said. "Our kicking game is improving, but I still have trepidation."

But the failure to get six points at the end of a 59-yard drive on fourth-and-goal from the Monarchs' one-yard line, or any of the four shots that Glendale had after a 10-yard run by Antonio Bray (66 yards in 11 carries) had set up first and goal on the five-yard line, became significant as L.A. Valley continued to stretch the scoring gap.

After Glendale had to punt the ball right back after a three-and-out, L.A. Valley went up, 24-14, with 36 seconds left in the third quarter on a 42-yard pass from Dan Owen to Travion Odom, the second big-yardage touchdown connection of the half between the two.

L.A. Valley took a 27-14 lead on a field goal with 9:00 left in regulation before a costly interception further hurt Glendale. Taking a deep shot down the field on the first play of a drive that began at the Monarchs' 42-yard line with 8:48 left in the game, the pass was tipped in the air by a defender, touched by the intended receiver and deflected into the arms of a falling Chris Martinez at the two-yard line.

L.A. Valley wouldn't score on its resulting possession, but likely did more damage to the Vaqueros' comeback hopes simply by running nearly six minutes off the clock.

Batista, who would later lead the Vaqueros 76 yards down the field in just 1:37 to score the game's final touchdown with 1:21 to play on a 21-yard pass to Donahue, finished with 143 yards passing on 13 of 22 attempts.

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