It was an epic battle between two outstanding football teams, with numerous swings and lead changes throughout the game. Long Beach (5-0, 2-0), ranked #2 in Southern California and 13th in the nation entering the game, led by 12 points at the half. Mt. San Antonio (4-1, 1-1), ranked #1 in Southern California and 2nd in the nation, led by 12 points midway through the fourth quarter. And the outcome was still in doubt until Long Beach's Kiante Goudeau blocked a field goal in the final minute to clinch the win.
The game began with the two teams exchanging big plays, like two heavyweight boxers trading roundhouse punches in the middle of the ring. Mt. SAC scored first when Justin Alo threw a 70-yard touchdown pass to Christopher Gilchrist on the game's third play from scrimmage. Long Beach answered with an 11-play drive that ended with a short touchdown run by Antonio Bateman. Then Alo threw a 76-yard touchdown pass to Derrick Macon. Less than a minute later LBCC's Kenny Potter threw a 78-yard touchdown pass to Josiah Blandin and the game was tied 14-14 with 7:07 still go to in the first quarter.
Then Long Beach's defense settled in, as Mt. SAC failed to score on any of its final six possessions of the first half. Meanwhile the Viking offense continued to move the ball. Alfredo Solis kicked a pair of 41-yard field goals, sandwiched around a 9-play, 69-yard touchdown drive that ended with Potter scoring on a 4-yard keeper, as Long Beach took a 26-14 halftime lead. The LBCC offense put up an astounding 414 yards of offense in the first half against a Mounties' defense that entered the night with statistically the third-best defense in Southern California.
In the third quarter, however, the Mt. SAC defense not only asserted itself, but took control of the game. Sitiveni Tamaivena intercepted a Potter pass near midfield and returned it for a touchdown just 1:28 into the second half to make it 26-21. Then came an LBCC three-and-out, followed by another Mt. SAC touchdown, this one on a 4th down run by Alo to give Mt. SAC a lead. The Vikings inserted Dale into the game to try to perk up the offense, but Aaron Simpson intercepted one of his passes, setting up a 34-yard field goal by Alberto Reyes-Villarreal, pushing Mt. SAC's lead to 31-26. After another Long Beach punt, Mt. SAC added another touchdown on another Alo run, this one from 20 yards out just over two minutes into the fourth quarter, to give the Mounties what seemed to be a comfortable 38-26 advantage.
But there was still almost an entire quarter to play, and things changed dramatically when Dale re-entered the game with 10:24 left. The Vikings had the ball at their own 25, but Dale led what would become a 13-play, 75-yard drive, scoring on a 1-yard keeper with 6:13 left to get Long Beach within five points. Then the Long Beach defense allowed just one first down before forcing a Mt. SAC punt, and the Viking offense got the ball at its own 40 with 2:57 remaining. A 10-yard pass to Bateman got the ball into Mt. SAC territory, and a 13-yard pass to De'Quan Hampton moved it to the 30. A personal foul penalty against the Mounties' defense moved it to the 15, and then Dale connected with Bateman for a 15-yard touchdown pass that turned out to be the winning score.
However, there was still 1:49 left on the clock, seemingly plenty of time for Alo and the Mounties' offense to answer back. A 19-yard pass from Alo to Gilchrist moved the ball to the Viking 36. But the next three plays gained just 5 yards, and the Mounties faced a 4th and 5 from the 31 with under a minute to go. Coach Bob Jastrab sent Reyes-Villarreal out to try a 48-yard field goal - a long kick, to be sure - to tie the game. But it never had a chance as three Vikings broke through and Goudeau blocked the kick before it reached the line of scrimmage, securing the most dramatic victory for the Vikings.
For Long Beach, Potter completed 21 of 40 passes for 294 yards and Dale was 10-for-16 for 103 yards, so the Viking quarterbacks combined for 397 yards passing and 2 touchdowns. Bateman led all rushers with 85 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries, and he also had 6 catches for 59 yards, including the game-winner. Hampton led all receivers with 8 catches, good for 86 yards. Blandin had a game-high 152 receiving yards on 7 catches and also had the game's longest play on his 78-yard touchdown catch. In all, Long Beach managed an even 600 yards of offense against a Mt. SAC defense that entered the game allowing just 254 yards per game, and gained 34 first downs.
For Mt. SAC, Alo completed 16 of 38 passes for 329 yards and 2 touchdowns, and he also rushed 9 times for 30 yards and 2 touchdowns. Gilchrist had 5 catches for 124 yards and a touchdown, and Macon had 3 catches for 95 yards and a score. Omaris Tolbert led Mt. SAC rushers with 68 yards on 12 carries, though most of that came on one 41-yard run in the third quarter. The Mt. SAC offense generated 435 yards in all and did not turn the ball over, and that combination is normally more than good enough to get a victory.
The win leaves Long Beach as the only unbeaten team left in the National Division and in all likelihood the new #1-ranked team in Southern California. The Vikings travel to Santa Maria to take on Allan Hancock next week and play Chaffey in Ranco Cucamonga the following Saturday.
Long Beach Vikings 41
Mt. San Antonio Mounties 38
Saturday, October 4, 2014 - 6 pm - Veterans' Stadium, Long Beach
National Division - Central Conference
M - Gilchrist 70 yd pass from Alo (Reyes-Villarreal kick) 13:56 (0-7)
LB - Bateman 5 yd run (Montes de Oco kick) 9:38 (7-7)
M - Macon 76 yd pass from Alo (Reyes-Villarreal kick) 7:53 (7-14)
LB - Blandin 78 yd pass from Potter (Montes de Oco kick) 7:07 (14-14)
LB - FG Solis 41 yds 11:56 (17-14)
LB - Potter 4 yd run (kick failed - bad snap - pass incomplete) 7:38 (23-14)
LB - FG Solis 41 yds 4:09 (26-14)
M - Si.Tamaivena 49 yd interception return (Reyes-Villarreal kick) 13:32 (26-21)
M - Alo 1 yd run (Reyes-Villarreal kick) 9:33 (26-28)
M - FG Reyes-Villarreal 34 yds 7:11 (26-31)
M - Alo 20 yd run (Reyes-Villarreal kick) 12:59 (26-38)
LB - Dale 1 yd run (Solis kick) 6:13 (33-38)
LB - Bateman 15 yd pass from Dale (Granch pass from Dale) 1:49 (41-38)
First Downs: Long Beach 34 (13 rush, 18 pass, 3 penalty), Mt. SAC 15 (3 rush, 9 pass, 3 penalty)
Rushes-Yds: Long Beach 42-203, Mt. SAC 29-106
Passing Yds: Long Beach 397, Mt. SAC 329
Comp-Att-Int: Long Beach 31-56-3, Mt. SAC 16-38-0
Return Yds: Long Beach 58, Mt. SAC 177
Sacks-Yds: Long Beach 1-6, Mt. SAC 4-19
Fumbles-Lost: Long Beach 0-0, Mt. SAC 1-0
Penalties-Yds: Long Beach 11-83, Mt. SAC 9-67
Time of Possession: Long Beach 33:14, Mt. SAC 26:46
Rushing: LB 4-Bateman 15-85, 7-Potter 12-61, 24-Johnson 4-32, 12-Dale 4-14, 1-White 2-10, 6-Moore 3-3, team 2-(-2); M 28-Tolbert 12-68, 5-Alo 9-30, 15-Gates 3-7, 22-Vaughns 4-1, 48-Wilson 1-0
Passing: LB 7-Potter 21-40-2-294, 1 TD; 12-Dale 10-16-1-103, 1 TD; M 6-Alo 16-38-0-329, 2 TDs
Receiving: LB 2-Hampton 8-86, 5-Blandin 7-152, 8-Whitt 6-73, 4-Bateman 6-59, 88-Granch 3-20, 14-Villa 1-7; M 6-Gilchrist 5-124, 4-R.Simpson 5-45, 1-Macon 3-95, 83-Hill 2-56, 8-Ingram 1-9
Interceptions-Ret Yds: LB none; M 7-A.Simpson 2-0, 43-Sitiveni Tamaivena 1-49
Fum Rec-Ret Yds: none
Sacks-Yds: LB 11-Fatu 1-6; M 43-Sitiveni Tamaivena 2-9. 17-Magalei 1-8, 2-Glass 1-2
Punters: LB 7-Thomas 3-44.3 avg, 15-Regpala 2-37.0 avg; M 61-Fulham 7-37.0 avg
Kick Returns: LB 6-Moore 1-26, 4-Bateman 1-25, 15-Regpala 1-3; M 22-Vaughns 3-67, 20-Solomon 1-30, 37-Hunter 1-20
Punt Returns: LB 4-Bateman 2-4; M 22-Vaughns 1-7, 20-Solomon 1-4
Missed FG: LB 13-Montes de Oca 31 yds (wide right); M 78-Reyes-Villarreal 48 yds (blocked)
Notes: Both teams entered 4-0; Mt. SAC was ranked #1 in the South and #2 in the nation (JC Grid-Wire) while Long Beach was ranked #2 in the South and #13 in the nation. Long Beach had 414 yds of offense in the 1st half. The Mt. SAC defense spurred the Mounties' comeback with the pick-six, a three-and-out and another interception that set up the FG. Dale played 2 series in the 3rd quarter and was ineffective but re-entered the game for the last 2 drives and ended up the hero for Long Beach. Mt. SAC drove to the Long Beach 31 for a game-tying FGA but 2-Goudeau blocked the field goal to preserve the win for Long Beach.