NORTHEAST GLENDALE — The law of averages suggests that a break would have to go the Glendale Community College football team's way at the end of a close game sooner or later.
The Glendale Vaqueros' record says something else entirely, particularly after Saturday night's 27-21 Pacific Conference American Division loss to Santa Barbara City College at Sartoris Field dropped the team to 0-8 and 0-4 in the conference.
Saturday's loss marked the third week in a row that Glendale has outplayed, if not flat-out dominated, its opponent in the second half to get back in a game and come close enough to taste a victory, only to see it crumble in the final moments.
Matthew Arve's interception of Glendale quarterback Steve Batista at the Santa Barbara 27-yard line with 42 seconds left in the fourth quarter proved to be just the latest heartbreaker.
"It seems to be the recurring nightmare," said Glendale Coach John Rome, whose team's comeback bid against L.A. Pierce on Oct. 9 died with the failure of a potentially game-tying two-point conversion before it's late go-ahead field goal against West L.A. on Oct. 23 was trumped by the Wildcats' own winning field goal as time expired. "It just keeps happening over and over. We just can't seem to break this cycle."
Glendale's defense, which has not allowed a second-half touchdown in its last two games, was lights out in the second half on Saturday, forcing Santa Barbara to punt on all five of its possessions.
Over the last three games, Glendale has needed to dominate second halves just to get even and, after a first half in which it lost two fumbles and surrendered 279 total yards of offense to go down, 27-7, Saturday was no different.
Batista, who completed 15 of 31 attempts for 219 yards, led Glendale on a nine-play, 90-yard scoring drive that started with a 46-yard pass to Reinaldo Reyes (eight catches for 106 yards) and ended with a 35-yard touchdown toss to Patrick Donahue (five catches for 67 yards and two scores) to pull within 27-14 with 3:58 left in the third quarter.
Donahue hauled in his second touchdown of the night on a 15-yard floater to the back corner of the end zone from Batista at the 13:58 mark of the fourth quarter to cap an eight-play, 81-yard march.
"Steve's got such a big arm, he can make plays," Rome said. "And he's got a good receiver that can run under the ball."
Trailing by six, Glendale would get two more possessions inside the final 7:30, with the second beginning at its own 23-yard line with 1:38 left in the game and no timeouts.
Glendale reached the 38-yard line with 52 seconds left, but Donahue couldn't hold onto a pass from Batista on second down. Batista's third-down attempt intended for Eugene Gandara (three catches for 72 yards) was then deflected and picked off to seal the game.
"We put ourselves in a position," Rome said, "where we have to make great plays at the end."