Darren Johnson rushed for 268 yards and 3 touchdowns, and Jack Lowary passed for 226 yards and 3 scores as Long Beach outlasted Chaffey, 52-40, and improved its record to 7-0 for the first time since 1998.
Johnson scored twice in the first quarter and then turned in an electrifying 91-yard touchdown run that helped put Long Beach (7-0, 2-0) in control of the game. The Vikings scored the first 17 points of the second half and led by at least 12 points the rest of the way after the 91-yard run.
A year ago, Chaffey upset LBCC in a game that proved to be pivotal for the Vikings. Arguably the three best teams in the state – Long Beach, Riverside and eventual state champ Mt. SAC – were all in the National Division's Central Conference, and Chaffey's 40-36 upset win over LBCC on October 18th was likely what kept the Vikings out of the playoff bracket.
And Saturday, the Panthers – for a half, anyway – looked to repeat that feat and keep LBCC from likely claiming the #1 ranking in the upcoming state poll. At intermission, Long Beach held just a 2-point lead, with a missed extra point and a blocked extra point the only difference between the teams.
Then came Johnson's 91-yard run, and from that moment on Long Beach led by at least two scores. After an exchange of punts, the Vikings found themselves at their own 9 yard-line. But on the next play, Johnson took the handoff and found a small hole in the Panther defense. The speedy sophomore burst through the hole and through a couple of other defenders' arms before burning down the field, untouched for the last 80-plus yards of the scintillating run.
Chaffey tried to answer and put together a 12-play drive, reaching the Viking 8 yard-line. But a sack by LBCC's Marcus Reynolds stopped the drive and pushed the Panthers back to their 16, facing a 4th and goal. On came the field goal team, but Gerson Moreira's kick was wide to the right, keeping the score 35-26.
Long Beach responded with an 8-play, 80-yard drive, with Lowary throwing a 19-yard touchdown pass to Mike Wilson with 13 seconds left in the third quarter to push Long Beach's lead to 42-26. And the Vikings got the ball back just three plays later when Mat Boesen forced a fumble, which J'Quan Hawkins recovered at the Chaffey 40. That led to a field goal by Sergio Garcia – which hit the right upright, the crossbar and the curved support bar before finally bouncing through – that pushed Long Beach's lead to 45-26.
Chaffey made one last comeback bid midway through the fourth quarter when Levi Plante threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Marquis Wimberly to close the gap to 45-33. But Long Beach answered with a scoring drive of its own that took nearly five minutes, with Deonte Dixon scoring on a 1-yard run with 2:48 remaining. Chaffey got one final touchdown with 3 seconds left on a pass from Plante to Brandon Mosley to close out the scoring.
All of that followed a wild first half that saw the teams combine for 8 touchdowns as each team had the ball 10 times. Chaffey scored the game's first touchdown after getting a break when a Panther punt was ruled to have hit a LBCC blocker; Dillon Montano recovered the ball at the Viking 23 and, two plays and a penalty later, Quincey Ross scored on a 5-yard run. Then Long Beach scored when Isaia Rosten recovered a Ross fumble – forced by Boesen – at the Panther 11. Two plays later, Johnson scored on an 8-yard run. The main difference in the scores was that Chaffey's extra point try was wide right, so LBCC had a 7-6 lead.
Long Beach took the lead when Lowary threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Wilson with 6:14 left in the first quarter. But the Vikings tried an onsides kick after the score, and Mosley made them pay for that by scooping up the bouncing ball and returning it 27 yards to the LBCC 38. Two plays and two penalties later, James Noble scored on an 8-yard run. This time Moreira's extra point kick was good, making it 14-13.
Long Beach got another touchdown on the final play of the first quarter when Johnson scored on a 2-yard run, and pushed its lead to 28-13 when Lowary threw his first touchdown pass of the night, an 18-yarder to Jerin Scroggins midway through the second quarter. But Chaffey answered with a touchdown pass from Plante to Brandon Arconado. The extra point try was blocked by LBCC's Hawkins, but the Panthers got the ball back moments later when Alex Olivas intercepted a Lowary pass and returned it to the Viking 9. On the very next play Ross scored on a 9-yard run, cutting Long Beach's lead to 28-26 at the half. But that would be as close as Chaffey would get the rest of the way.
For Long Beach, Johnson had a truly sensational game with his 268 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns, and his 91-yard dash was arguably the key play of the game. Lowary, a true freshman from Mater Dei HS, completed 16 of 30 passes for 226 yards, 3 touchdowns and just one interception as the Vikings rolled up 535 yards of offense. Wilson led all receivers with 7 catches for 94 yards and 2 touchdowns, and Scroggins had 4 catches for 89 yards and a score. London Iakopo led the defense with 2 of the Vikings' 5 sacks, an interception and 11 tackles. Boesen forced 2 fumbles, and Hawkins had a sack, a fumble recovery and the blocked extra point. And finally, Sergio Garcia made all 7 of his extra point tries as well as the field goal that gave LBCC a 19-point lead.
For Chaffey, Plante completed 25 of 37 passes for 342 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Eleven different receivers caught passes, led by Wimberly, who had 6 catches for 75 yards and a score. Ross had 14 carries for 53 yards and 2 touchdowns, though he also had the two fumbles. Noble had 9 carries for 55 yards and a score. Mosley caught a touchdown pass as a tight end and had the alert return of the attempted onsides kick on special teams.
With the win, Long Beach improves to 7-0 on the season and, with previous #1-ranked Riverside losing (to Fullerton) since the last poll the Vikings are expected to ascend to the top spot in this week's rankings. LBCC has a bye this week to enjoy that status but then will have to defend its ranking by heading out to Riverside to take on the Tigers on October 31st in what may well be a preview of the SoCal championship game.
Long Beach Vikings 52, Chaffey Panthers 40
Saturday, October 17, 2015 – 6 pm @ Veterans Stadium, Long Beach
National Division – Central Conference
C – Ross 5 yd run (kick wide right) 10:24 (0-6)
LB – Johnson 8 yd run (Garcia kick) 8:58 (7-6)
LB – Wilson 29 yd pass from Lowary (Garcia kick) 6:19 (14-6)
C – Noble 8 yd run (Moreira kick) 5:32 (14-13)
LB – Johnson 2 yd run (Garcia kick) 4:00 (21-13)
LB – Scroggins 18 yd pass from Lowary (Garcia kick) 8:07 (28-13)
C – Arconado 25 yd pass from Plante (kick blocked) 5:15 (28-19)
C – Ross 9 yd run (Moreira kick) 4:54 (28-26)
LB – Johnson 91 yd run (Garcia kick) 11:28 (35-26)
LB – Wilson 19 yd pass from Lowary (Garcia kick) 0:13 (42-26)
LB – FG Garcia 24 yds 12:08 (45-26)
C – Wimberly 27 yd pass from Plante (Moreira kick) 7:27 (45-33)
LB – Dixon 1 yd run (Garcia kick) 2:48 (52-33)
C – Mosley 6 yd pass from Plante (Moreira kick) 0:03 (52-40)
First Downs: Long Beach 24 (11 rush, 9 pass, 4 penalty), Chaffey 24 (7 rush, 14 pass, 3 penalty)
Rushes-Yds: Long Beach 43-309, Chaffey 39-114
Passing Yds: Long Beach 226, Chaffey 342
Comp-Att-Int: Long Beach 16-30-1, Chaffey 25-37-1
Return Yds: Long Beach 119, Chaffey 237
Sacks-Yds: Long Beach 5-17, Chaffey 0-0
Fumbles-Lost: Long Beach 2-1, Chaffey 2-2
Penalties-Yds: Long Beach 8-80, Chaffey 12-130
Time of Possession: Long Beach 29:54, Chaffey 30:06
Rushing: LB 24-Darren Johnson 26-268, 8-Harris 8-29, 21-Dixon 6-11, 19-Lowary 1-4, team 2-(-3); C 27-Noble 9-55, 3-Ross 14-53, 5-Fletcher 2-3, 10-Plante 14-3
Passing: LB 19-Jack Lowary 16-30-1-226, 3 TDs; C 10-Levi Plante 25-37-1-342, 3 TDs
Receiving: LB 1-Mike Wilson 7-94, 4-Jerin Scroggins 4-89, 11-Ohaeri 2-27, 5-Welch 2-11, 24-Johnson 1-5; C 2-Marquis Wimberly 6-75, 82-Arconado 3-64, 3-Ross 3-30, 19-Farha 2-28, 80-Mosley 2-15, 8-Bowie 2-12, 7-Davis 2-5, 5-Fletcher 1-74, 1-Ooten 1-25, 81-Carter 1-13, 27-Noble 1-1
Interceptions-Ret Yds: LB 22-London Iakopo 1-29; C 2-Olivas 1-17
Fum Rec-Ret Yds: LB 35-Rosten 1-0, 44-Hawkins 1-0; C 63-Montano 1-0
Sacks-Yds: LB 22-Iakopo 2-7, 41-Reynolds 1-8, 44-Hawkins 1-1, 97-Tupua 1-1; C none
Punters: LB 17-Regpala 6-36.7 avg; C 3-Jacobs 7-34.1 avg, 10-Plante 1-25
Kick Returns: LB 7-Watson 1-34, 8-Stevens 2-34, 84-Ford 1-16, 14-Crockett 1-9, 11-Ohaeri 2-5; C 5-Fletcher 4-109, 7-Davis 2-43, 9-Fleming 2-34, 80-Mosley 1-27
Punt Returns: LB 8-Stevens 1-0, team 1-(-8); C 82-Arconado 1-7
Missed FG: LB 34-Garcia 29 yds (wide right); C 36-Mereira 33 yds (wide right)
Notes: Long Beach improves to 7-0 and 2-0 in conference, and is expected to be named the #1 team in California in this week's poll. Chaffey falls to 3-3 and 0-2. Chaffey's 1st TD came after Montano recovered a loose ball after a punt hit a LBCC blocker. Long Beach's 1st TD came after Rosten's fumble recovery. 6-Boesen forced both Chaffey fumbles for LBCC. Long Beach tried an onsides kick after its 2nd TD but Mosley grabbed the bouncing ball and returned it to the LBCC 38, setting up Chaffey's 2nd TD. Hawkins blocked the extra point for LBCC. Chaffey's 4th TD came one play after Olivas' interception. Long Beach's FG came after Hawkins' fumble recovery. This is Long Beach's first 7-0 start to the season since 1998.