SANTA BARBARA — Ten minutes after the conclusion of Glendale City College’s American Division Pacific Conference football game, Vaqueros Jose Sanchez, Carlos Gonzalez, Anthony Acevedo and Manuel Garabedian playfully tackled head coach John Rome to the ground.
The gesture figured natural since Glendale’s defense tallied seven sacks, forced three turnovers and had taken down all other comers in a come-from-behind 24-17 road victory Saturday evening over Santa Barbara City College.
“This is special to us because we’re trying to change a culture,” said Rome, who was helped up back to his feet by his players. “These are the types of games that show who we are and what we’ve become.”
With the victory, Glendale improved to 6-3 overall and 4-2 in conference and bolstered its potential for a bid to a postseason bowl game.
Glendale took the lead for good with nine minutes left in the game when freshman defensive back Marcus Tappen picked off a deflected pass and ran unabated to the end zone for a 25-yard score that gave the visitors a 24-17 lead.
“That’s what we do. We create turnovers,” Tappan said. “We came into the game leading the conference, if not Southern California, with 34 turnovers and we added to that tonight.”
What Santa Barbara (6-3, 3-3) didn’t realize at the time was that its subsequent three-and-out after the Glendale score would mark the final time the home squad touched the ball on offense.
Santa Barbara punted back to Glendale with 7:45 remaining in the fourth and Glendale bled the rest of the clock, aided by a foolish running into the punter penalty on a fourth and three that gave Glendale a pivotal first down.
Glendale trailed, 17-10, to start the fourth, but knotted the score with a one-yard touchdown run from quarterback Sean Murphy (nine for 36 for 169 yards and two interceptions) with 14:26 remaining in the fourth.
Glendale initially trailed by three to start the half, but rallied behind a 26-yard field goal from kicker Dan Bickford with 7:44 left in the third.
Santa Barbara countered with a touchdown pass from quarterback Josh Martin (14 for 30 for 167 yards and two interceptions) to receiver Jacob Arnell with 1:14 left in the third to give the home side a 17-10 lead.
Despite leading in yardage (154-88) and first downs (10-8), Glendale trailed Santa Barbara at the half, 10-7.
The game changed on one sequence courtesy of Santa Barbara’s special teams, which woke the home team from a bit of a slumber when freshman linebacker Brandon Nicastro blocked a punt from Glendale freshman punter Forrest Ascarrunz (St. Francis High) in the end zone.
The batted ball bounced off the turf and rolled out of the back of the end zone, giving Santa Barbara its first points as the home team pulled within 7-2 of Glendale with 6:22 remaining in the second quarter.
Glendale’s subsequent free kick was returned to the visitor’s 49.
From there, Santa Barbara drove to the Glendale two, aided by a roughing-the-passer penalty and pass interference, before Martin punched in a two-yard touchdown via a keeper with 3:54 remaining.
Martin then connected with Giovanni Sanders on a pass that was initially deflected for a two-point conversion that gave Santa Barbara a 10-7 lead.
Previously, Glendale opened with the game’s first touchdown.
After a stagnant, scoreless first quarter, Glendale began the second quarter with an impressive 12-play, 95-yard drive that culminated on 12-yard pitch from Murphy to running back Marquise McGuire (32 carries for 170 yards) for a touchdown.
Glendale’s scoring drive began with a 25-yard pass play from Murphy to Joshua Martinez (Bellarmine-Jefferson) and included a pivotal pass interference call versus Santa Barbara on a third and 10 on the Santa Barbara 34.
Santa Barbara defensive back Tavonte Jackson stunted two Glendale drives with interceptions, including a pick with .06 seconds left before the close of the half.
Glendale also had an interception and fumble recovery from defensive back Jaelan Rising-Barnwell.