WOODLAND HILLS — Dreams of an American Division Pacific Conference championship came to an end for the Glendale Community College football team Saturday night.
The Vaqueros, who were hoping to knock off Los Angeles Pierce College and take the conference’s lone automatic bowl berth, will instead hope for a long shot at-large bowl selection after a 41-16 defeat in the regular season finale to the host Brahmas.
With the victory, Pierce (8-2, 6-1) earned the conference’s top spot due to the one-year inelligiblity of Santa Monica (8-2, 7-0). Glendale ended its best season since 2007 with a 6-4 mark and tied for third in conference with Santa Barbara (7-3, 4-3) and Antelope Valley (4-6, 4-3).
The CCCAA will make official bowl selections on Monday.
The Vaqueros trailed by 17 points to begin the second half and received what could have been big contributions from their defense.
After Glendale punted on its first possession of the second half, the defense rallied behind an interception from Marcus Tappan, who also added two sacks.
Tappan returned the ball 40 yards to the Pierce 25.
Yet, Glendale’s offense only picked up three yards on the missed on a 40-yard field from Dan Blackford, due mostly to a bad snap and bad hold.
Pierce drove on the next possession, only to have Chris Riley pick off his second pass of the game with 8:37 left in the third.
Riley returned the ball to the Brahmas’ 38 and Glendale eventually moved to the 10 before Blackford’s next field goal try clanked off the goal posts.
The two misses were followed up by two touchdowns from Pierce, the first a 73-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Nick Arbuckle to receiver Isaiah Nelson.
That was followed by a Brahmas 41-yard field goal and a 50-yard interception return for a touchdown from Brahmas defensive back Cody Schooley with 47.7 second left in the third to put the home team up, 41-7.
Glendale eventually added nine points on a touchdown pass from quarterback Sean Murphy (10 for 32 for 132 yards and two touchdowns versus four interceptions) to D’Angelo Blake and a safety.
The first half and perhaps the entire game changed on one play as Glendale trailed Pierce, 24-7, at the midway break.
The Vaqueros were down 10 points with a second and goal at the one with 7.6 seconds remaining when Murphy dropped back and fired a pass into double coverage.
Murphy’s pass was intercepted by Brahmas sophomore defensive back Bobby Baker, who broke an early tackle attempt at the five and then raced unabated to the opposing end zone for a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown as time expired.
The subsequent extra point put Pierce ahead, 24-7, as Glendale players were already heading to the lockerroom before the kick.
Prior to the interception, Murphy was given a reprieve when a wayward pass intercepted by sophomore Mathew Dash was negated on a personal foul given after a blow to the head.
The Vaqueros were given a first down at the 14 with 26 seconds left and then moved to the two on a pass interference call with 13.3 seconds left.
Glendale’s last-second drive was made possible thanks to an odd interception from Riley, who picked the ball out of the air after a Brahmas wide receiver Bryson Martinez appeared to have an easy reception only to stumble and pop the ball directly up.
Previous to the interception, Glendale’s lone score came in a flash as Murphy connected with Marquise McGuire on a short five-yard pass that turned into a 69-yard sprint down the sidelines as the Vaqueros pulled within 17-7 with 9:48 left in the second.
McGuire’s touchdown counteracted a three-yard score from Arbuckle to Martinez with 10:08 left in the second, which allowed Pierce to take a 17-0 lead.
The Brahmas also scored on three-yard touchdown run from Zach Mumford and a 24-yard field goal from Daniel Schlorf in the first quarter.