Close games hadn’t gone in favor of the Glendale Community College football team until last week.
On the brink of losing its 12th straight American Division Pacific Conference game, GCC put together a game-winning touchdown drive that was capped with about 30 seconds to play in a 24-21 win over winless West Los Angeles College.
While an uplifting win, it was nearly a heartbreaking loss after the Vaqueros led, 17-0, at the end of the first quarter. They ran into some problems when drives stalled deep in their opponent’s territory, as Glendale Coach John Rome opted to go for it on fourth down instead of attempting a field goal after his holder suffered an injury.
“I can’t tell you the joy I feel to watch my young men come back and win, to watch these young guys say, ‘Hey, we overcame it to our benefit,’” Rome said. “Do I think it pays dividends in the end? I do. I am hoping this is something we needed for these guys to understand they can win close games as easily as we’ve lost them.”
Like winless West L.A., Glendale faces another team that’s been troubled this season in 1-5 Los Angeles Southwest College (0-3 in conference). GCC plays host Saturday at 1 p.m. at Sartoris Field.
The Cougars are struggling this season at 1-5, 0-3 in conference, and on a four-game losing streak. Their offense has struggled mightily the last three weeks. It has averaged seven points a game in losses to Los Angeles Pierce (47-12), Santa Barbara (44-7) and Santa Monica (27-2).
Still, as Rome pointed out, L.A. Southwest is the third-best team in the conference running the ball, averaging 161.2 yards a game and 11 rushing touchdowns on the year.
“They’re going to line up with two backs in the backfield and try to pound the ball and I hope we can hold up,” Rome said.
The Cougars rely on their running game, as Latrell Flowers led the team with 252 yards and four touchdowns on 51 carries through five games. Quarterback Christopher Smith had completed 60 of 121 passes for 778 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions coming into last week.
GCC suffered a 13-0 loss to the Cougars in 2012.
Sean Murphy has played well under center this year for Glendale. He completed 19 of 33 passes for 178 yards and two scores, including the winning three-yard touchdown pass to tight end Tanner Mays (seven catches, 57 yards), last week.
Despite two fumbles, Marquise McGuire is coming off a big game for GCC. The running back ran for 124 yards on 28 carries and caught four passes for 40 yards and a touchdown.
“I love our balance,” Rome said of his offense. “It’s nice that we can throw the ball and stretch all corners of the field, we haven’t done that in awhile.”
It was once again on defense that Glendale was most dominant last week. It forced six turnovers (four interceptions, two fumbles) and held West L.A. to negative 20 yards rushing on 19 carries. It will have to be up to the task of stopping the run again this week against L.A. Southwest.
“It’s getting late in the year, you just want to take on all challenges,” Rome said. “We’ve played option football teams, now we have to play an old-fashioned I-formation running team.”