Sean Smith passed for 299 yards and threw two second-half touchdown passes to Xavier Ubosi, and LA Pierce took advantage of five Glendale turnovers to post a 27-16 victory Saturday in the American Division Pacific Conference opener for both teams.
Pierce (2-1, 1-0) controlled the ball for over 21 of the 30 minutes of the first half to build a 13-0 lead at intermission. Glendale (1-3, 0-1) got on the board when defensive end Mohamed Inoussa sacked Smith for a safety midway through the third quarter, and had a chance to cut further into the Brahma lead when Jordan LoBianco returned the free kick to the Pierce 34.
But the Pierce defense held, with Houston Haynes intercepting a Grant Kraemer pass at the 10 yard-line on 4th down. Then the Brahmas increased their lead to 20-2 when Smith connected with Ubosi on a 53-yard touchdown pass five plays later. Smith and Kraemer connected on another touchdown pass, this one from 20 yards out, with 10:11 left in the fourth quarter as Pierce maintained at least an 11-point lead the rest of the game.
Pierce took advantage of Glendale turnovers to build its first half lead. Oscar Gonzalez put the Brahmas ahead, 3-0, with a 38-yard field goal that came after Marc Jonassaint recovered a fumble by Glendale's Kevin Farmer on a punt return. Gonzalez added a second field goal in the second quarter following Justin Harris' recovery of a botched lateral pass by Kraemer. In addition, the Brahmas put together an 8-play, 74-yard drive that ended with Calvin Howard scoring on a 3-yard run following a blocked field goal attempt. Haynes broke through and smothered the kick after the Vaqueros had reached the Pierce 9 on their first drive of the game.
Glendale scored a pair of second-half touchdowns, but never got closer than the final margin. Kraemer completed an 11-yard touchdown pass to Anthony McGinnis late in the third quarter to cut the Pierce lead to 20-9. And after Smith's second touchdown pass to Ubosi, Travis Custis scored on a short run midway through the fourth quarter to make it 27-16.
Smith finished 25 of 38 passing for 299 yards, 2 touchdowns and no fumbles or interceptions. Jamere Austin hauled in a game-high 9 catches for 113 yards, and Keotae Stenhouse had 6 catches for 80 yards. Ubosi had 5 receptions for 90 yards and the two touchdowns. Howard led all rushers with 81 yards on 15 carries, and scored Pierce's other touchdown. Keontae Chavies led the Brahma defense, registering sacks of Kraemer on three consecutive plays from scrimmage over two series at one point, knocking him out of the game with an apparent leg injury.
For Glendale, Kraemer completed 10 of 23 passes for 79 yards and a touchdown, but also had one interception and a fumble on the attempted lateral. Custis carried the ball 12 times for 70 yards and a touchdown. The most impressive Vaquero was undoubtedly linebacker Nolan Jackson, who had a game-high 12 tackles and was a visible presence for Glendale all night.
The win improves Pierce's record to 2-1 overall and 1-0 in conference play, and the Brahmas host West LA next Saturday. Glendale falls to 1-3 overall and will host defending conference champion Santa Monica next week.
L.A. Pierce Brahmas 27, Glendale Vaqueros 16
Saturday, September 26, 2015 @ Sartoris Field, Glendale
American Division – Pacific Division
P – FG Gonzalez 38 yds 9:33 (3-0)
P – Howard 3 yd run (Gonzalez kick) 0:12.8 (10-0)
P – FG Gonzalez 41 yds 1:45 (13-0)
G – Safety – Smith tackled in end zone by Inoussa 8:26 (13-2)
P – Ubosi 53 yd pass from Smith (Gonzalez kick) 3:34 (20-2)
G – McGinnis 11 yd pass from Kraemer (Beltran kick) 2:43 (20-9)
P – Ubosi 20 yd pass from Smith (Gonzalez kick) 10:11 (27-9)
G – Custis 1 yd run (Beltran kick) 7:11 (27-16)
First Downs: Glendale 20 (8 rush, 6 pass, 6 penalty), Pierce 19 (5 rush, 12 pass, 2 penalty)
Rushes-Yds: Glendale 34-124, Pierce 34-104
Passing Yds: Glendale 98, Pierce 299
Comp-Att-Int: Glendale 12-30-2, Pierce 25-38-0
Return Yds: Glendale 207, Pierce 40
Sacks-Yds: Glendale 1-5, Pierce 3-23
Fumbles-Lost: Glendale 3-3, Pierce 0-0
Penalties-Yds: Glendale 8-60, Pierce 16-136
Time of Possession: Glendale 23:56, Pierce 36:04
Rushing: G 8-Custis 12-70, 6-Arriaga 5-52, 15-Kraemer 11-9, 4-R.Jones 2-6, 7-Jarvis 1-4, 3-D.Jones 1-(-2), team 2-(-15); P 3-Howard 15-81, 30-Foster 3-9, 14-Richards 9-8, 4-Stenhouse 1-8, 8-Smith 3-7, 36-Thomas 1-4, 15-Ubosi 1-(-11), team 1-(-2)
Passing: G 15-Kraemer 10-23-1-79; 6-Arriaga 2-7-1-19; P 8-Sean Smith 25-38-0-299, 2 TDs
Receiving: G 7-Jarvis 3-16, 11-Griffen 2-27, 24-LoBianco 2-23, 20-McGinnis 2-17, 4-R.Jones 2-5, 84-Benn 1-10; P 5-Jamere Austin 9-113, 4-Stenhouse 6-80, 15-Xavier Ubosi 5-90, 83-Procopia 2-6, 14-Richards 2-(-2), 9-Tr.Kanteman 1-12
Interceptions-Ret Yds: G none; P 26-Staton 1-8, 1-Haynes 1-0
Fum Rec-Ret Yds: G none; P 20-Jonassaint 1-0, 25-Harris 1-0, 46-Phillips 1-0
Sacks: G 50-Inoussa 1-5; P 37-Chavies 3-23
Punters: G 17-Ascarrunz 3-43.0 avg; P 47-Ta.Kanteman 4-38.0 avg
Kick Returns: G 21-Thompson 2-78, 24-LoBianco 1-48, 2-Farmer 1-39, 4-R.Jones 1-32; P 36-Thomas 2-30
Punt Returns: G 2-Farmer 1-10; P 4-Stenhouse 1-2
Missed FG: G 38-Beltran 28 yds (blocked); P 67-Gonzalez 30 yds (wide right)
Notes: American-Pacific opener for both teams; Pierce entered 1-1 overall, ranked #9 in American Div-SoCal while Glendale entered 1-2 and tied for #10. Kraemer started at QB for Glendale; Arriaga played 2 series to start the 3rd quarter and then replaced Kraemer after he was sacked by Chavies on 3 consecutive plays from scrimmage in the 4th quarter. Pierce's 1st FG came after Jonassaint recovered a Farmer fumble on a punt return. Haynes blocked the FGA for Pierce. Pierce's 2nd FG came after Harris recovered a botched lateral. After the safety, LoBianco returned the ensuing free kick to the Pierce 34 but that drive ended with Haynes' interception of a 4th down pass. Then Pierce drove 90 yards for a TD to maintain control of the game.