Pierce Holds Off Stubborn Vaqueros

LA Pierce saw most of a 21-point second-half lead disappear after a frantic rally by host Glendale Saturday night, but stopped a 2-point conversion try with zeroes on the clock to hold on for a 42-40 win. Quarterbacks Clinton Granger and Exavier Johnson each threw and ran for a touchdown for the victorious Brahmas in a game that featured nearly 900 yards of offense and a dozen touchdowns.

Pierce (4-2, 2-0) entered the game as heavy favorite, based on their win over Fullerton and near-misses against Bakersfield and Long Beach, while Glendale (0-6, 0-2) entered seeking its first win of the year.  And when Pierce scored two touchdowns in the first eight minutes of the game, it looked like the Brahmas could be in for an easy time of it.  Even after Glendale stopped the momentum in the second quarter to still trail by just 14 at halftime, Pierce scored on its first drive of the second half to increase the lead to 35-14 and seemingly take control of the game.

But Glendale had other ideas, and though the Vaqueros never quite pulled even, they didn't quit and nearly pulled off a most improbable comeback.  Steven Batista passed for 300 yards on the day and 4 touchdowns, two in the final 6:33, including a scoring strike to Eugene Gandara as the clock hit zeroes to bring Glendale within a successful two-point conversion of evening the game.  However, on that conversion, Batista tried to convert on a quarterback draw and was stopped well short of the goal line, allowing Pierce to hold on for the win.

Early on, it looked like Pierce might win in a rout.  The Brahmas forced a Glendale punt after allowing just one first down, and then drove down the field, taking a 7-0 lead when Daniel Lopez capped a short 4-play, 56-yard drive with a 22-yard touchdown run.  Then, Pierce's Michael Hodieb recovered a Glendale fumble at the Vaquero 30.  Two plays later, Exavier Johnson scored on a 4-yard run to make it 14-0 with 7:38 left in the first quarter.

Glendale stabilized things a bit after that, embarking on a 12-play, 71-yard drive and scoring on the first play of the second quarter when Ra'Shon Harper scored on a 3-yard run.  But Pierce answered with a 7-play drive of its own, pushing the lead back to 14 points when Clinton Granger, who alternated with E. Johnson at QB for the Brahmas, scored on a 12-yard run.  Glendale got within a touchdown again when Batista threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Quiroz to make it 21-14.  But Pierce pushed the margin back to 14 when E. Johnson threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Nate Ingram with just over a minute left in the first half to make it 28-14 at the break.

When the second half began, Pierce seemed to take control of things with a plodding, 15-play, 85-yard drive that took 5:29 and ended when Granger threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Damon Julian to make it 35-14.  Even after Glendale answered with a 9-play scoring drive that ended with a 4-yard scoring run by Omar Sanchez-Berrara, Pierce seemed in control with a 35-20 lead entering the final quarter.

However, Glendale got within a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter when Batista threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Donahue to make it 35-27.  Still, Pierce answered with a 7-play scoring drive, culminating with a 33-yard touchdown run by Lopez with 11:41 left that made it 42-27.

There was still plenty of time left for Glendale to rally though and the Vaqueros answered back with a 12-play drive that brought them back within a touchdown and a two-point conversion of tying the game.  The Vaqueros had to convert a pair of 4th down chances to keep the drive alive, including a 19-yard pass from Batista to Donahue on 4th and 19 from the 35.  But three plays after that, Batista threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Reinaldo Reyes to make it 42-34 with 6:33 left.

That seemed to allow plenty of time for another score, and Glendale got the ball back less than two minutes later after forcing a Pierce punt.  However, the Vaqueros were also unable to move the ball and were also forced to punt.  After exhausting all of their timeouts the Vaqueros did, however, manage to force another Pierce punt, and got the ball back at their own 25 with 32.8 seconds left still trailing by 8 points.

The final drive started slowly with a pair of incomplete passes, but then Batista threw to Donahue for 15 yards and a first down at the 40.  After a spike to stop the clock, time was really becoming a factor when Batista threw a 47-yard pass to Reyes to get the ball to the Pierce 13.  The clock stopped at 3.4 seconds as the chains were moved, and then Batista spiked the ball again, stopping the clock with 2.9 seconds left and allowing enough time for just one play.  That proved to be just enough as Batista found Gandara in the back of the end zone and hit him with a 13-yard touchdown pass as the clock showed all zeroes, making it 42-40 pending the conversion.

There was some confusion amongst the Vaqueros before the conversion attempt, and Glendale was penalized five yards for having 12 players on the field.  Then on the restart from the 8, Batista faded back as if to pass, but then pulled the ball down and tried to run to the goal line on a quarterback draw.  The Pierce defense wasn't fooled, however, and stopped him for a short gain well short of the goal line to hold on for the win.

There were a good many impressive statistics in the game for both teams.  Pierce quarterbacks Granger and E. Johnson combined for 186 yards passing and 30 yards rushing, each passing for and rushing for a score.  The strong-running Lopez finished with 100 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns on 12 carries, and John Johnson had 83 yards on 13 carries.  Ty Harris led Brahma receivers with 5 catches for 71 yards.  Damon Julian had 4 catches for 39 yards, one kick return for 47 yards and a punt return for 21 yards.  Overall, Pierce finished with 399 yards of offense and 23 first downs.

For Glendale, Batista completed 17 of 32 passes for his 300 yards, and he had 4 touchdowns, 3 in the fourth quarter.  Omar Sanchez-Berrara led the Vaqueros with 73 yards rushing on 16 carries.  Donahue led all receivers with 181 yards on 9 catches.  And special mention has to go to Harper, who rushed for 53 yards on 12 carries and returned a pair of kickoffs for 52 yards, and also saw considerable time at safety on defense.  Overall, Glendale finished with 484 yards of offense and equaled Pierce with 23 total first downs.

L.A. Pierce Brahmas 42
Glendale Vaqueros 40

Saturday, October 9, 2010 - 6 pm - Sartoris Field - Glendale

1st Quarter:    
P - Lopez 22 yd run (Sandoval kick) 9:53 (7-0)
P - E.Johnson 4 yd run (Sandoval kick) 7:38 (14-0)

2nd Quarter:   
G - Harper 3 yd run (Abghari kick) 14:56 (14-7)
P - Granger 8 yd run (Sandoval kick) 11:38 (21-7)
G - Quiroz 18 yd pass from Batista (Abghari kick) 3:34 (21-14)
P - Ingram 4 yd pass from E.Johnson (Sandoval kick) 1:04 (28-14)

3rd Quarter:   
P - Julian 13 yd pass from Granger (Sandoval kick) 9:31 (35-14)
G - Sanchez-Berrara 4 yd run (kick failed - bad snap) 5:16 (35-20)

4th Quarter:    
G - Donahue 26 yd pass from Batista (Abghari kick) 14:52 (35-27)
P - Lopez 33 yd run (Sandoval kick) 11:41 (42-27)
G - Reyes 9 yd pass from Batista (Abghari kick) 6:33 (42-34)
G - Gandara 13 yd pass from Batista (run failed) 0:00 (42-40)

Team Statistics:
First Downs:  Glendale 23 (11 rush, 12 pass), Pierce 23 (11 rush, 10 pass, 2 penalty)
Rushes-Yds:  Glendale 43-184, Pierce 40-213
Passing Yds:  Glendale 300, Pierce 186
Comp-Att-Int:  Glendale 17-34-1, Pierce 16-27-2
Return Yds:  Glendale 186, Pierce 105
Sacks-Yds:  Glendale 1-5, Pierce 1-12
Fumbles-Lost:  Glendale 2-1, Pierce 2-0
Penalties-Yds:  Glendale 16-117, Pierce 6-57
Time of Possession:  Glendale 32:23, Pierce 27:37

Individual Statistics:
Rushing:  Glendale 25-Sanchez-Berrara 16-73, 3-Harper 12-53, 5-Bray 7-41, 6-Batista 8-17; Pierce 28-Lopez 12-100, 13-J.Johnson 13-83, 12-Granger 7-22, 3-E.Johnson 7-8, 22-King 1-0
Passing:   Glendale 6-Batista 17-32-1-300, 4 TDs; team 0-2-0-0; Pierce 12-Granger 11-18-1-105, 1 TD; 3-E.Johnson 5-9-1-81, 1 TD
Receiving:   Glendale 4-Donahue 9-181, 2-Reyes 3-64, 47-Quiroz 2-28, 18-Gandara 2-23, 3-Harper 1-4; Pierce 6-Harris 5-71, 18-Julian 4-39, 7-Behre 4-29, 1-Davis 1-28, 88-L.Williams 1-15, 24-Ingram 1-4
Interceptions-Ret Yds:  Glendale 28-Brown 1-20, 26-Smith 1-0; Pierce 20-Wells 1-0
Sacks-Yds:  Glendale 22-Hendricks 1-5; Pierce 97-McKinney 1-12
Fumble Rec-Ret Yds:  Glendale none; Pierce 77-Hodieb 1-0
Punters:   Glendale 9-Hunter 5-35.8 avg; Pierce 1-Davis 2-34.5 avg; 60-Goldman 3-33.0 avg
Kick Returns:  Glendale 2-Reyes 3-85, 3-Harper 2-52, 4-Donahue 1-21, 5-Bray 1-8; Pierce 18-Julian 1-47, 13-J.Johnson 1-27, 20-Wells 1-10
Punt Returns:  Glendale none; Pierce 18-Julian 1-21
Missed FG:  none
Notes:  Pierce entered 3-2 overall, 1-0 in the American Division, Pacific Conference and ranked #17 in the South.  Glendale entered 0-5 overall and 0-1 in conference.  E.Johnson started at QB for Pierce but he and Granger alternated for the most part with each QB taking 2 series at a time.  Pierce's 2nd TD came after Hodieb's fumble recovery.  Glendale converted 2 4th downs to score its 5th TD and then, after a Pierce punt, got the ball back with 32.8 seconds left.  A 47-yd completion from Batista to Reyes got the Vaqueros into scoring range, and then Batista threw to Gandara in the back of the end zone as time expired.  On the 2-pt conversion try, the Vaqueros were penalized 5 yds (12 men on field) and then on the restart tried a QB draw but Batista was stopped well short of the goal line. 

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