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Glendale Community College football to open conference against L.A. Pierce

Following a successful sweep through the nonconference portion of its schedule, the Glendale Community College football team will begin Pacific Conference American Division competition at 7 p.m. Saturday where it ended last season — at L.A. Pierce.

If nothing else, the Vaqueros would like to gain a measure of revenge after the Brahmas posted a 41-16 win last season. Though Glendale finished 6-4 — the first winning season since Glendale Coach John Rome took over the program in 2008 — the loss ended any chance the Vaqueros had of advancing to a bowl game for the first time since 2006.

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“It’s a little ironic that we go back there to begin conference,” said Rome, whose team improved to 3-0 on Saturday with a 38-28 home win against San Bernardino Valley. “It’s another opportunity for us to get better and keep learning and that’s what we tell [the players].

“We know conference will be tough once again. This is the first step of trying to get through it. We’ve begun a stretch beginning the other day in which we play four tough teams in a row.”

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Glendale, which finished tied for third in the division last season, is off to its best start since 2009. Glendale will look to improve to 4-0 for the first time since 1988, when it finished 10-2 and beat Santa Monica to capture the Western State Bowl. The Vaqueros are ranked second in the latest California Community College Southern California American Division Regional State poll behind San Diego Southwestern.

Pierce, ranked ninth in the poll, enters conference at 1-1 following a 41-14 home loss against Southwestern on Saturday.

Rome said the Vaqueros played well in the first three quarters before holding off San Bernardino Valley in the fourth. Glendale held a 31-7 lead entering the fourth quarter before San Bernardino Valley closed to within 31-28 with 5:29 remaining.

“In the first three quarters, we did everything well on offense, defense and special teams,” Rome said. “In the fourth quarter, we struggled on offense and defense.

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“We need to work on some things still, but we feel good about where we are overall. We feel good where we are with the skill level and now you take that over to conference. We know we get a first good test with Pierce.”

Glendale, which averages 36.3 points per game, finished with 383 yards of total offense against San Bernardino Valley. The Vaqueros received a big effort from starting quarterback Andre Nunez, who rushed for a pair of touchdowns. On defense, Glendale linebackers Dominick Bell and Chris Riley collected 12 and 10 tackles, respectively. Glendale hadn’t allowed an offensive touchdown in its first two contests.

Rome said Nunez and Sean Murphy will likely share the signal-calling chores against Pierce. Nunez completed six of 14 passes for 143 yards and one touchdown. Murphy completed 10 of 20 passes for 96 yards. On the season, Nunez has completed 28 of 47 passes for 361 yards and three touchdowns and Murphy is 20 of 40 for 319 yards and two touchdowns.

Pierce turned to running back Shakeem Wharton, who had 74 yards rushing in nine carries and scored the team’s lone touchdown. Wharton has rushed for 155 yards in 23 carries and a pair of touchdowns. Quarterback Sean Smith completed 10 of 29 tosses for 94 yards against Southwestern and is 14 of 37 for 156 yards overall.

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