Mt. SAC Barely Bests Desert

Facing the unlikely end of a marvelous 25-game winning streak, Mt. SAC and quarterback Cameron Deen put together a clutch 6-play drive and Mark Larmie scored on a 3-yard run with 2:26 left to lift the defending champion Mounties to a narrow 27-24 victory over upstart College of the Desert Saturday afternoon in Walnut.

Until Larmie crossed the goal line, it looked for most of the fourth quarter as though the unranked Roadrunners from Desert would topple the #2-ranked (JC Grid-Wire) Mounties, who haven't tasted defeat since a loss to Saddleback nearly two years ago. Desert, featuring its NFL-sized offensive line (which averages nearly 340 pounds per man), scored a pair of third-quarter touchdowns to take a 21-20 lead, and added a field goal with 4:27 left to make it 24-20.

But Mt. SAC had one last chance to preserve the streak, and with Deen at the helm the Mounties rose to the challenge. A short kickoff went to fullback John Scanlan, and the 260-pound freshman gave Mt. SAC a boost with a 16-yard return to the 49. After Deen threw for a 6-yard gain on first down, Matt Botello broke free for a 19-yard gain on the next play to the Desert 26. After an incomplete pass, Deen threw a 17-yard toss to Alonzo Agwuenu to the 9. Another pass - this one for 6 yards - to Agwuenu got the ball to the 3, and Larmie plowed through the line for what turned out to be the winning score on the next play.

Desert still had 2:26 with which to work, and only needed a field goal to send the game to overtime, but was unable to score. COD got the ball at its 27 and gained a first down to the Mt. SAC 45 on a 21-yard run by Jai Steib. But then the Mt. SAC defense dug in, with a 7-yard sack by Koliniasi Leota on the next play, followed by two incomplete passes. On fourth down, Josh Kaiwi sacked COD quarterback Charles Fortis for a 14-yard loss, turning the ball back to Mt. SAC on downs and finally clinching the hard-fought win.

When the game began, Mt. SAC struck first on a 36-yard field goal by Abraham Torres midway through the first quarter. But Desert struck back with an 8-play, 74-yard drive that featured a 45-yard pass from Fortis to Ivory Washington and a pair of major penalties against the Mt. SAC defense. Jai Steib's 2-yard scoring run with 4:39 left in the quarter gave Desert a 7-3 lead.

Mt. SAC held a 17-7 lead at halftime after a pair of touchdown passes from Deen to Agwuenu in the second quarter. The second of those was set up by a dramatic change of field position on punts; Mt. SAC punter Daniel Colby boomed a 54-yard punt that rolled dead at the COD 1. After gaining just one first down, Desert had to punt, and Garcia's kick went just 6 yards. Two plays later Deen threw a 26-yard TD pass to Agwuenu to make it 17-7.

But Desert rallied in the third quarter, scoring on its first drive of the second half when Fortis threw a 53-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Brewer just as he took a tremendous hit from Mt. SAC linebacker Leo Aukusitino. That made it a three-point game at 17-14. Mt. SAC stretched its lead to 20-14 on a 25-yard field goal by Torres that capped a 17-play drive that chewed up more than 7 minutes off the clock.

That hardly seemed to discourage COD, however, even after the Roadrunner offense went three-and-out on its next possession. The Desert defense forced a Mt. SAC punt after allowing just one first down, and generated a huge break when Jacob Sheffield broke through and blocked Colby's punt attempt. Cade Cowdin recovered the ball at the Mt. SAC 25, and three plays later Steib scored on a 6-yard run to tie the score at 20. Brett Symonds' extra point gave COD a 21-20 lead with 1:01 left in the third quarter.

Neither team scored again - despite a momentary golden opportunity for Mt. SAC - until Symonds' field goal with 4:27 left that stretched COD's lead to 24-20. Mt. SAC's Kaiwi had intercepted a Fortis pass with about 10 minutes left deep in Desert territory, but fumbled on the return and Brewer recovered for the Roadrunners. COD eventually punted on that possession, and the Roadrunners held the lead until Larmie's game-winning touchdown with 2:26 left.

For Mt. SAC, Deen completed 23 of 42 passes for 226 yards and 2 touchdowns. Agwuenu led Mt. SAC receivers with 5 catches for 73 yards and 2 TDs. Botello led all rushers with 82 yards on 16 carries. Shelton Miles had two of the Mounties' three interceptions. And Colby averaged 51.6 yards per kick on his 5 punts that were not blocked.

For Desert, Fortis completed 27 of 47 passes for 279 yards and a TD, though he also had 3 interceptions. Steib had 55 yards rushing on 13 carries, and scored twice. Washington had 7 catches for 58 yards and Jacobs had 6 catches for 56 yards to lead Roadrunner receivers.

With the win, Mt. SAC keeps its 26-game win streak intact entering next weeks' showdown at Riverside. Mt. SAC handed RCC its only loss last season, and RCC is coached by former Mt. SAC offensive coordinator Tom Craft.

Desert falls to 2-1 but should rise in the polls based on this effort and its two impressive wins against Mt. San Jacinto and LA Valley. The Roadrunners host Pasadena next Saturday at 6 pm.

Mt. San Antonio Mounties 27
College of the Desert Roadrunners 24

Saturday, September 17, 2011 - 1 pm - Hilmer Lodge Stadium, Walnut

1st Quarter:    
M - FG Torres 36 yds 6:40 (3-0)
D - Steib 2 yd run (Symonds kick) 4:39 (3-7)

2nd Quarter:
M - Agwuenu 15 yd pass from Deen (Coons kick) 7:46 (10-7)
M - Agwuenu 26 yd pass from Deen (Coons kick) 3:10 (17-7)

3rd Quarter:   
D - Brewer 53 yd pass from Fortis (Symonds kick) 13:07 (17-14)
M - FG Torres 25 yds 5:44 (20-14)
D - Steib 6 yd run (Symonds kick) 1:01 (20-21)

4th Quarter:
D - FG Symonds 27 yds 4:27 (20-24)
M - Larmie 3 yd run (Coons kick) 2:26 (27-24)

Team Statistics: First Downs: Mt. SAC 15 (3 rush, 10 pass, 2 penalty), Desert 20 (6 rush, 11 pass, 3 penalty)
Rushes-Yds: Mt. SAC 28-87, Desert 31-72
Passing Yds: Mt. SAC 226, Desert 279
Comp-Att-Int: Mt. SAC 23-42-1, Desert 27-47-3
Return Yds: Mt. SAC 105, Desert 181
Sacks-Yds: Mt. SAC 3-31, Desert 2-8
Fumbles-Lost: Mt. SAC 1-1, Desert 2-1
Penalties-Yds: Mt. SAC 8-88, Desert 8-76
Time of Possession: Mt. SAC 28:01, Desert 31:59

Individual Statistics:
Rushing: M 32-Botello 16-82, 34-Larmie 4-13, 3-Lomu 2-(-1), 11-Deen 4-(-4), team 2-(-3); D 11-Steib 13-55, 34-T.Johnson 5-26, 7-Jacobs 2-8, 21-Garcia 2-4, 23-D.Johnson 1-(-1), 15-Fortis 8-(-20)
Passing:   M 11-Deen 23-42-1-226, 2 TDs; D 15-Fortis 27-47-3-279, 1 TD
Receiving:   M 1-Agwuenu 4-73, 32-Botello 3-30, 88-Rhodes 3-27, 8-Viramontes 3-16, 3-Lomu 2-10, 6-Duncan 2-8, 82-Taylor 1-20, 18-Dotson 1-18, 10-Tillman 1-10, 16-Gage 1-5, 34-Larmie 1-5; 6-Washington 7-58, 7-Jacobs 6-56, 88-Brewer 4-89, 11-Steib 4-35, 1-Calhoun 4-34, 34-T.Johnson 1-5, 21-Garcia 1-2
Interceptions-Ret Yds: M 5-Miles 2-41, 94-Kaiwi 1-10; D 10-Cowdin 1-10
Fumble Rec-Ret Yds: M 93-Leota 1-0; D 88-Brewer 1-4
Sacks: M 94-Kaiwi 1-14, 31-Brandon 1-9, 93-Leota 1-7; D 2-Harmon 1-7, 10-Cowdin 1-1
Punters:   M 49-Colby 5-51.6 avg + 1 blk; D 80-Symonds 3-39.0 avg; 21-Garcia 4-19.5 avg
Kick Returns: M 41-Scanlan 2-32, 3-Lomu 1-17; D 3-Jackson 2-51, 21-Garcia 2-49, 7-Jacobs 1-23
Punt Returns: M 3-Lomu 2-5; D 21-Garcia 2-41, 47-Sheffield 1-8
Missed FG: M 30-Coons 49 yds (short); D none
Notes: Both teams entered 2-0 but Mt. SAC was ranked #1 in California (JCAB) and #2 in the nation (JC Grid-Wire while Desert was ranked #21 in California and unranked nationally. Sheffield's punt block set up COD's go-ahead TD. Kaiwi intercepted a Fortis pass with about 10 mins left but fumbled and Brewer recovered for COD. Scanlan's return of a short kickoff to the Mt. SAC 49 jump-started the game-winning drive. COD had one last chance to tie or go ahead but Kaiwi's sack of Fortis on 4th down ended the threat.

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