After coming achingly close to wins this season only to fall short, the best remedy for the Glendale Community College football team’s season-long losing streak was to leave nothing to chance, and nothing to the fourth quarter.
Bolstered by the return of injured quarterback Kevin Hunter and powered by one of the more prolific rushing attacks in the state, Glendale jumped all over host Santa Barbara City College early and never relented.
Glendale’s 38-17 Pacific Conference American Division victory Saturday night was its first win of any kind since a win over L.A. Southwest to close out the 2010 campaign and lifted an immense weight off the shoulders of coaches and players alike.
“It feels very great because everybody this year has put in a lot of effort in the spring and summer,” said Glendale running back Joe Wiggan, who led the team’s 217-yard rushing attack with 97 yards and a pair of touchdowns in 22 carries. “It starts in the weight room and it ends on the field, but it feels good to see all your work actually pay off and it feels good to see your family enjoy the victory together as a unit.”
Coach John Rome added, “It was the best feeling to see the faces of these young men and they’ve worked so hard.”
The visitors would trail early, 3-0, on a 37-yard field goal by Adam Maisch with 6:20 left in the first quarter, but from there it was all Glendale (1-7, 1-3 in conference). On 22 total plays, Glendale drove 66 and 63 yards, respectively, for two first-half scores to take a 14-3 lead into the halftime break.
Wiggan scored on a five-yard run with 43 seconds remaining in the first period and Omar Barrera-Sanchez punched one in from a yard out with 3:25 left in the half.
Wiggan’s second score of the night, a three-yard run, finished off a 10-play, 55-yard march to open the third quarter and Timothy Broughton got in on the scoring with a four-yard run to cap a 12-play, 47-yard drive and put Glendale up, 28-3, with 1:18 left in the third.
“It was a very, very complete win,” said Rome, whose team entered the contest ranked 12th in the state in rushing offense with 198.3 yards per game. “We really moved the ball well on the ground.”
Santa Barbara (0-9, 0-5) didn’t score again until the early seconds of the fourth quarter, when Tyson Heller found Dominic Lasco for a 19-yard touchdown pass to make it 28-10, as the Glendale defense held strong for most of the night. Scott Plescia recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown with 13:16 left in the fourth quarter for Glendale, which also got an interception from Osa Aikhionbare and two sacks from Daniel Cruz.
“Both sides of the ball were just working together,” Wiggan said. “Our defense did a phenomenal job stopping the ball, creating turnovers and I think our offense fed off that.
“We were a little slow in the first quarter, but once we built the momentum, we were just keeping the momentum our defense was giving us and once the ball was rolling downhill, it was hard to stop it.”
Hunter returned from a four-week layoff due to lacerated kidney suffered on Sept. 24 to complete 10 of 18 passes for 145 yards and give the Glendale a welcome balance to its offense that had been sorely lacking in his three-game absence.
“We tried to keep him within the game plan and protect his injury, but he did very well,” Rome said. “He looked good, it was nice to see the ball thrown and caught.
“When you can throw the ball, even if you don’t complete the [pass], the very threat that you can throw the ball deep stops people from pressing their defenders forward to stop the run, so, rather than playing against eight to nine players, you’re now playing against seven and eight and we have a reasonable chance for success.”