Long Beach (9-2) missed a berth in the playoff field by the narrowest of margins, despite a win over eventual wild card qualifier Mt. San Antonio. And Saturday it seemed the Vikings wanted to make sure everyone understood how good this team really was and how it should have been included in the playoff field.
Long Beach scored on its first drive less than two minutes into the game, and just kept on scoring. The Vikings scored the first 7 times it had the ball to build a stunning 45-14 halftime lead. Then in the second half the defense and special teams joined the fun with touchdowns after an interception and a fumble and also added 2 points on the return of a botched extra point attempt.
Running back Darren Johnson started the scoring party with a 39-yard touchdown run just 1:55 into the game. Then after a punt by Golden West (7-4), Kenny Potter connected with tight end Clayton Granch for a 37-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-0 just 5:58 into the game. Then the Long Beach defense forced another punt.
What a punt it was - Dylan Klumph's kick sailed over the head of return man Anterio Bateman and rolled dead at the Viking 3 yard-line for a 76-yard punt - but it hardly slowed down the Vikings. Just 5 plays later Bateman atoned for not catching the punt by carrying the ball 71 yards for a touchdown to push Long Beach's lead to 21-0 less than 10 minutes into the game.
Golden West got on the board when Chris d'Entremont threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Zimari Manning to cap a short drive after a long kickoff return by Johnny Hills. But Long Beach answered quickly with another drive, with Potter scoring on a 2-yard run just 2:40 into the second quarter. After another Golden West punt, the Vikings added a short field goal by Alex Solis to make it 31-7 midway through the second quarter.
Golden West got another touchdown when Hills took a short d'Entremont pass along the left sideline and broke free for a 55-yard touchdown. But Long Beach answered with two scores before the end of the half. Potter threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to USC-bound De'Quan Hampton with 4:37 left in the second quarter, and a 47-yard touchdown pass to Zach Saffle with 53 seconds left to make it 45-14 at the break. It was almost a little more one-sided as the Vikings got the ball back on an interception by Matthew Rowe with 4 seconds left and tried a double-lateral play. But it was stopped at the Rustler 6 yard-line with the clock at zeroes.
The Golden West offense stepped up in the third quarter and joined in the fun, and the Rustlers eventually closed the gap to 20 points. d'Entremont threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Hill on Golden West's first drive of the third quarter. Long Beach answered with another touchdown, with Bateman scoring from a yard out, but Darius Miles returned the ensuing kickoff 83 yards to set up another score. d'Entremont threw a 17-yard scoring pass to Manning to make it 52-27.
On the conversion attempt, however, the snap was high and the ball bounced towards midfield. Long Beach's Kiante Goudeau scooped it up near the 40 and returned it the distance for a 2-point play for the Vikings. And then on the kickoff, Johnson took the kick at his 5 and returned it 95 yards for a touchdown. Solis' extra point gave the Vikings 9 points since the Golden West touchdown without running a single play on offense.
Golden West scored again on its next drive, helped by a successful fake punt play on which Kjaye Rodgers ran for a first down an on a d'Entremont pass that he threw left-handed (a would-be Viking tackler had control of his right hand) for a 9-yard gain. Hills scored on the next play for an 11-yard touchdown run to make it 61-34.
Then Golden West finally got a defensive stop, forcing Long Beach's first punt of the night with 2:33 left in the third quarter. The Rustlers then went on a 66-yard scoring drive, cutting the deficit to 20 points when d'Entremont's 30 yard touchdown pass - thrown right-handed, as usual - to Mike Covelli made it 61-41 with 37 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Rustlers then forced another Long Beach punt, and Golden West drove to the Viking 6 yard-line with ideas of what would have been a miracle comeback. But on 4th and 4 from the 6, d'Entremont's final pass of the night fell incomplete with 10:46 left.
Long Beach put the game away when Potter threw a short pass to Josiah Blandin that the lanky receiver turned into a long gain, breaking free for an 80-yard pick-up before finally being hauled down at the Rustler 13. Two plays later Potter scored on a 1-yard keeper to make it 68-41 with 8:13 left. Then about two minutes later, Rowe intercepted a pass from Golden West's Chris Bell and returned it 63 yards for a pick-six, making it 75-41 and closing out the scoring.
Quarterback Potter earned MVP honors for Long Beach, completing 21 of 30 passes for 381 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. He also scored 2 touchdowns on short runs. Bateman was LBCC's Player of the Game, gaining 215 yards on the ground and 2 touchdowns from just 18 carries. He also had 4 catches for 44 yards and two punt returns. Blandin had 5 catches for 107 yards, and Hampton had 6 catches for 61 yards and a touchdown. Johnson had two touchdowns, one on a run and one on a kickoff return. And Rowe had the two interceptions on defense, one of which he returned for a score. Perhaps most busy of all was kicker Solis, who made all 10 of his extra point tries, kicked a field goal, kicked off 12 times and made 2 tackles, one of which resulted in his helmet flying off.
For Golden West, d'Entremont had an outstanding game, completing 24 of 39 passes for 302 yards and 5 touchdowns. Any other time that should have been enough to get a win, but this time he had to settle for Golden West Player of the Game honors. Manning had a game-high 7 catches for 94 yards and 2 touchdowns, and Hill also scored two touchdowns.
For the game, Long Beach amassed 340 yards rushing and 394 yards passing for an astounding total of 734, 525 of which came in that remarkable first half. Golden West had 359 yards through the air and 117 on the ground for a total of 476. Long Beach also had 350 return yards and Golden West had 253. So between offense and special teams Long Beach and Golden West combined for an unbelievable total of 1813 total combined yards on the evening.
Long Beach Vikings 75
Golden West Rustlers 41
Saturday, November 22, 2014 - 6 pm - Veterans' Stadium, Long Beach
2014 Beach Bowl
1st Quarter: LB - Johnson 39 yd run (Solis kick) 13:05 (7-0)
LB - Granch 37 yd pass from Potter (Solis kick) 9:02 (14-0)
LB - Bateman 71 yd run (Solis kick) 5:34 (21-0)
GW - Manning 5 yd pass from d'Entremont (Avila kick) 0:30 (21-7)
2nd Quarter: LB - Potter 2 yd run (Solis kick) 12:20 (28-7)
LB - FG Solis 22 yds 7:23 (31-7)
GW - Hills 55 yd pass from d'Entremont (Avila kick) 6:40 (31-14)
LB - Hampton 8 yd pass from Potter (Solis kick) 4:37 (38-14)
LB - Saffle 47 yd pass from Potter (Solis kick) 0:53 (45-14)
GW - Hills 12 yd pass from d'Entremont (Avila kick) 11:42 (45-21)
LB - Bateman 1 yd run (Solis kick) 8:29 (52-21)
GW - Manning 17 yd pass from d'Entremont (kick failed - bad snap) 8:10 (52-27)
LB - Goudeau return of fumbled kick snap on XPA 8:10 (54-27)
LB - Johnson 95 yd kickoff return (Solis kick) 7:55 (61-27)
GW - Hills 11 yd run (Avila kick) 3:53 (61-34)
GW - Covelli 30 yd pass from d'Entremont (Avila kick) 0:37 (61-41)
4th Quarter: LB - Potter 1 yd run (Solis kick) 8:13 (68-41)
LB - Rowe 63 yd interception return (Solis kick) 6:07 (75-41)
First Downs: Long Beach 26 (9 rush, 15 pass, 2 penalty), Golden West 26 (8 rush, 15 pass, 3 penalty)
Rushes-Yds: Long Beach 46-340, Golden West 24-117
Passing Yds: Long Beach 394, Golden West 359
Comp-Att-Int: Long Beach 23-33-0, Golden West 28-49-2
Return Yds: Long Beach 350, Golden West 253
Sacks-Yds: Long Beach 3-21, Golden West 1-5
Fumbles-Lost: Long Beach 1-1, Golden West 1-0
Penalties-Yds: Long Beach 17-136, Golden West 17-146
Time of Possession: Long Beach 32:04, Golden West 27:56
Rushing: LB 4-Bateman 18-215, 7-Potter 12-56, 24-Johnson 7-50, 20-Thomas 5-20, 16-Kalama 1-1, 1-White 1-0, 6-Moore 2-(-2); GW 7-Rodgers 6-38, 28-Hills 4-28, 5-Miles 4-25, 2-d'Entremont 8-21, 38-Akengue 2-7
Passing: LB 7-Potter 21-30-0-381, 3 TDs; 16-Kalama 2-3-0-13; GW 2-d'Entremont 24-39-1-302, 5 TDs; 10-Bell 4-10-1-57
Receiving: LB 2-Hampton 6-61, 5-Blandin 5-107, 4-Bateman 4-48, 88-Granch 2-57, 17-Saffle 1-47, 14-Villa 1-39, 24-Johnson 1-12, 11-Tedesco 1-11, 6-Moore 1-10, 10-Augello 1-2; GW 3-Manning 7-94, 1-Truxton 5-61, 28-Hills 4-85, 5-Miles 4-26, 18-Buffington 2-26, 7-Rodgers 2-25, 8-Clark 2-5, 25-Covelli 1-30, 84-Norbeck 1-7
Interceptions-Ret Yds: LB 4-Rowe 2-73; GW none
Fum Rec-Ret Yds: LB none; GW 43-Alagata 1-0
Sacks: LB 10-Allen, 18-S.Fao, 4-Rowe ½, 55-J.Fao ½; GW 86-Smith
Punters: LB 7-Thomas 2-45.0 avg; GW 89-Klumph 5-46.8 avg
Kick Returns: LB 9-Tornero 3-90, 4-Bateman 2-35, 24-Johnson 1-95, 3-Corbin 1-34; GW 28-Hills 4-99, 5-Miles 2-109, 48-Kramer 2-19
Punt Returns: LB 4-Bateman 2-13; GW 1-Truxton 2-26
Missed FG: none
Notes: MVP: Potter, Long Beach. LB Player of the Game: Bateman. GW Player of the Game: d'Entremont. LB entered 8-2, ranked #3 in National Division; Golden West entered 7-3, ranked #5. LB scored on all 7 of its first-half possessions (not counting a one-play, 4-second possession after Rowe's first int at the end of the half), its first second-half possession and on both the extra point and the kickoff following GW's 4th TD. Klumph had a 76-yd punt to the LB 3 but Bateman's 71-yd TD run came moments later. Bateman also had a 66-yd run to the GW 5 in the 1st half. GW's 5th TD drive was kept alive with a successful fake punt run by Rodgers and a completed pass left-handed by d'Entremont. LB's kicker Solis not only went 10/10 on XPAs and made his only FG try but had 2 tackles on kickoffs.