GLENDALE — In search of a positive start to 2013, the Glendale Community College football team looked to open the season with a win over El Camino College Compton Center in consecutive years and end a home losing streak at Sartoris Field that spanned three years and 17 games.
After the final whistle, it was done and done on both counts. The Vaqueros received major contributions from a variety of new faces and feasted on eight Tartars turnovers on the way to a 35-7 victory to earn their first victory at home since Nov. 7, 2009.
“This win is a great win for us,” Vaqueros freshman receiver Isaiah Bernard, who caught two touchdowns, said, “and it’s history for the team because it’s the first home win in the last [several] years. I’m really happy to be part of this team.”
The GCC defense led the way, holding Compton scoreless until late in the fourth quarter, when the visitors scored against the reserves. The Vaqueros forced five turnovers alone in the first quarter, including on the first play of the day, as Compton’s first snap was high, lost and recovered by GCC. The giveaways led to Glendale taking a 21-0 lead in the first quarter.
Glendale scored its first points of the season on its second possession of the contest, capping a 12-play drive with a five-yard touchdown run by sophomore Brandon Foley. Earlier in the drive, freshman starting quarterback Sean Murphy threw his first completion as a college athlete, connecting with fellow newcomer Brock Kap for 15 yards.
“The first game of the season is always exciting,” Murphy said. “A bunch of us freshmen, [it’s] our first game in college, so it’s really exciting for us.”
On the ensuing possession, Compton running back Kevin Lance fumbled on a run up the middle, and once again GCC defenders recovered the mistake. The Vaqueros then turned the miscue into points when Murphy threw his first touchdown, connecting with freshman Jeremy Maresca for a 23-yard score.
The play just before saw Joshua Martinez run for 22 yards on his first touch as a Vaquero.
Glendale then intercepted two of the next three pass attempts by Compton. It was started by freshman Dante Shipman, who pulled down the first of his two interceptions, despite losing his helmet in the process. Following a punt, newcomer Marcus Tappan added an interception he returned it six yards — the last three draped with a would-be tackler — for the defensive score. Tappan also had a second-quarter interception.
“Marcus Tappan is an outstanding young man and I’m very proud he’s on our football team,” Glendale Coach John Rome said.
The fifth and final giveaway of the first quarter by Compton came on a botched pitch that was recovered by Vaquero Jonathan Santos.
It was long until GCC got its next pick, this time coming from Jerome Davis. The Vaqs cashed in on his effort, turning it into points when Murphy tossed a 55-yard touchdown to Bernard for the final points of the half. The home team led, 28-0, at the break.
“On that first score, I saw the quarterback. He looked at me and then he just threw it,” Bernard said. “I prayed that I’d catch it and then I just kept going.”
Murphy completed his third touchdown of the game when he found Bernard again to end the Vaqueros’ opening drive of the second half with points. Murphy threw a 15-yard pass to Bernard, who was well covered but managed to reach back with one arm and tip the ball to himself, which he caught lying on his back in the end zone.
Compton managed to not cough up the ball in the third quarter, but that streak ended on the first play of the fourth as the Tartars suffered their eighth turnover of the contest on a Shipman interception.
“I was seeing the ball in the air and I knew I had to just go get it,” Shipman said. “This was just a big eye-opener for me so I know what I need to work on. I just hope to have a good year this year.”
Glendale will look to claim many more wins this season, Saturday was just the first step.
“It’s nice to come out and get a win,” Rome said. “Our program has longed for wins and it’s nice to come out and get one, especially one at home.”