Santa Monica (7-0, 4-0) fell behind, 14-0, in the first half but took advantage of five turnovers by LA Valley (5-2, 3-1) to rally for its 31st straight conference victory. Three of the Corsairs' four touchdowns came right after turnovers, with the other following a long punt return on a day the defenses excelled for both teams.
The showdown pitted 4-time defending conference champion and #1-ranked (in the American Division) Santa Monica against #2-ranked LA Valley, with the winner having the inside track for the conference title and a berth in the American Bowl. Each team must still play conference co-leader LA Pierce, but only the winner Saturday would control its own fate.
And the defenses set the tone early, with the teams combining for no points, five punts and a missed field goal in the first quarter. Then Santa Monica got the first break of the game when Carnell Lewis broke through and blocked an LA Valley punt, giving the Corsairs the ball at the Monarch 9. But a key tackle-for-loss by Valley's Terrell Cloud forced Santa Monica to settle for a 22-yard field goal attempt. And Valley's James Walton broke through the line and blocked that kick, keeping the game scoreless.
Following that blocked kick, LA Valley drove for the game's first score, putting together a 7-play drive that covered 78 yards and ended with Anthony Wyche's 21-yard touchdown run. Then the Monarch defense forced a three-and-out. And on fourth down, Michael Sewell Jr. broke through and blocked the Corsair punt. Eric Jenkins grabbed the bouncing ball and returned it all the way to the Santa Monica 1 yard-line. The Corsair defense stopped three Monarch scoring tries from in close, but on fourth and goal Wyche scored on a 3-yard run to push Valley's lead to 14-0 with 10:16 left in the second quarter.
After another Corsair punt – this one wasn't blocked – Valley had the ball deep in its own territory when a quarterback Patrick Tyler was pressured and threw the ball towards the sideline. But the throw stayed on the field, and Aaron Corbin made the interception for Santa Monica at the Monarch 28. That led to Santa Monica's first touchdown, which came on a 5-yard run by Jones with 6:04 left in the half.
The fired-up Corsair defense then forced another punt, which Hakeem Zeb returned 37 yards to the Monarch 15 with punter Ryan Boyd saving the touchdown with a tackle. But that only postponed things as Jones scored two plays and a penalty later on a 4-yard run with 2:15 left in the half. On the extra point try, however, the snap was low, and so was the kick. The ball went into the line, with tackle David Lemoto appearing to be the Monarch with the block. That left Valley ahead, 14-13, at the half.
Santa Monica took advantage of two Monarch turnovers to take a lead in the third quarter, with both scores coming on touchdown passes from Williams. First, linebacker Birdel Hodge, in registering his third sack of the day, knocked the ball from Tyler, and Marquis Lomax recovered at the Monarch 36. Williams threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Jones to give SMC a lead. Then the Corsairs got the ball back when Wyche fumbled near midfield and Patrick Wooten recovered at the Monarch 44. Four plays later Williams threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Damaja Young to push Santa Monica's lead to 28-14.
LA Valley answered with a touchdown on its next drive, with Tyler throwing a 26-yard scoring pass to Wyche with 12:32 remaining. But the extra point was blocked – the fifth blocked kick of the game (2 punts, 2 extra points and a field goal try) – by SMC's Brandon Lawless, keeping the Corsair lead at eight points at 28-20.
The LA Valley defense forced a Santa Monica punt, and the Monarchs then drove into Corsair territory in a bid to perhaps tie the game. But the drive ended just across midfield when Tyler's fourth-down pass fell incomplete with 6:58 remaining. Santa Monica then drove deep into Monarch territory, looking for one more score to secure the win. The Corsairs reached the 5 yard-line at one point, though a 7-yard sack by Cloud and linebacker James Walton sent the Corsairs back to the 12. Then on fourth down, on came Kieran Rock for the clinching field goal.
But his kick was wide to the right, leaving Valley one last chance to rally. And the Monarchs quickly got to their own 49. But then came three incomplete passes, with SMC's Max Lyons making a nice play to strip away the ball from a Monarch receiver on third down. And on fourth down, Lyons was even better, intercepting Tyler's final pass of the game to finally clinch the win for the Corsairs.
For Santa Monica, Williams completed 16 of 25 passes for 159 yards and 2 touchdowns, and perhaps most importantly no turnovers. Jones rushed 15 times for 58 yards and 2 touchdowns, and also caught a touchdown pass. Young had 6 catches for 73 yards and a score. The defense was superb, forcing 4 turnovers and registering 4 sacks. And the special teams defense blocked a punt and an extra point. It was truly a team victory for the Corsairs.
For LA Valley, Tyler completed 16 of 31 passes for 213 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Wyche carried the ball 15 times for 50 yards and two touchdowns, and he also caught a touchdown pass. But the Monarchs also had the 5 turnovers, which proved to be their downfall. Receiver Matthew Burdeaux had an outstanding game with game-highs of 8 catches for 114 yards.
LA Valley also suffered another loss when freshman defensive lineman Josh Stanton suffered what appeared to be a severe leg injury early in the second half. He was carted off the field and taken away by ambulance. Here's hoping for a full recovery for the young man from Saugus HS.
The win marks Santa Monica's 31st straight in Pacific Conference play, and the Corsairs are now in position to win their 5th straight conference championship. LA Valley falls a game behind but can stay in the picture with a win next Saturday against LA Pierce.
Santa Monica Corsairs 28, LA Valley Monarchs 20
Saturday, October 24, 2015 – 1 pm @ Corsair Field, Santa Monica
American Division – Pacific Conference
LAV – Wyche 21 yd run (Boyd kick) 13:39 (0-7)
LAV – Wyche 3 yd run (Boyd kick) 10:16 (0-14)
SM – R.Jones 5 yd run (Rock kick) 6:04 (7-14)
SM – R.Jones 4 yd run (kick blocked) 2:15 (13-14)
SM – R.Jones 3 yd pass from T.Williams (Riggins pass from Williams) 7:32 (21-14)
SM – Young 24 yd pass from T.Williams (Rock kick) 3:58 (28-14)
LAV – Wyche 26 yd pass from Tyler (kick blocked) 12:32 (28-20)
First Downs: Santa Monica 14 (6 rush, 6 pass, 2 penalty), LA Valley 21 (5 rush, 13 pass, 3 penalty)
Rushes-Yds: Santa Monica 42-102, LA Valley 44-104
Passing Yds: Santa Monica 162, LA Valley 213
Comp-Att-Int: Santa Monica 17-26-0, LA Valley 16-31-2
Return Yds: Santa Monica 197, LA Valley 164
Sacks-Yds: Santa Monica 4-25, LA Valley 1-7
Fumbles-Lost: Santa Monica 0-0, LA Valley 3-3
Penalties-Yds: Santa Monica 10-91, LA Valley 8-69
Time of Possession: Santa Monica 25:08, LA Valley 34:52
Rushing: SM 20-Roger Jones 15-58, 1-Duggins 9-34, 6-Holliday 9-13, 27-Heicklen 1-8, 3-Williams 5-5, team 3-(-6); LAV 23-Anthony Wyche 15-50, 21-Conner 13-38, 3-Frost 6-13, 9-Jones 2-4, 7-Tyler 8-(-11)
Passing: SM 3-Troy Williams 16-25-0-159, 2 TDs; 14-Raggio 1-1-0-3; LAV 7-Patrick Tyler 16-31-2-213, 1 TD
Receiving: SM 8-Damaja Young 6-73, 29-Zeb 3-40, 11-Chambers 2-14, 81-Kirven 2-10, 1-Duggins 1-10, 88-Jackson 1-8, 5-Riggins 1-4, 20-Jones 1-3; LAV 15-Matthew Boudreaux 8-114, 11-Ricks 3-19, 4-Burgess 2-20, 23-Wyche 1-26, 89-Phillips 1-22, 21-Conner 1-12
Interceptions-Ret Yds: SM 10-Lyons 1-73, 4-Corbin 1-0; LAV none
Fum Rec-Ret Yds: SM 2-Lomax 1-0, 19-Sessions 1-0, 25-Wooten 1-0; LAV none
Sacks: SM 41-Birdel Hodge 3, 92-Coleman; LAV 22-Walton ½, 56-Cloud ½
Punters: SM 27-Heicklen 5-45.8 avg + 1 blk; 3-Williams 1-21; LAV 53-Boyd 3-39.7 avg + 1 blk
Kick Returns: SM 1-Duggins 1-27, 29-Zeb 1-24, 10-Lyons 1-7, 38-Aminzadeh 1-4; LAV 4-Burgess 4-102, 3-Frost 1-26
Punt Returns: SM 37-Lewis 1-32, 29-Zeb 2-32, 10-Lyons 1-(-2); LAV 6-Sewell 1-21, 4-Burgess 2-3, 1-Jenkins 0-12
Missed FG: SM 40-Rock 29 yds (wide right), 22 yds (blocked); LAV 53-Boyd 43 yds (short)
Notes: Showdown! Santa Monica entered 6-0, 3-0 in conference and ranked #1 in the American Divison; LA Valley entered 5-1, 3-0 and ranked #2. Lewis blocked the punt for Santa Monica. 22-Walton blocked the field goal for LA Valley. Sewell blocked the punt for LA Valley; Jenkins picked up the bouncing ball and carried it to the SMC 1, setting up Valley's 2nd TD. SMC's 1st TD came after Corbin's interception. SMC's 2nd TD came after Zeb's 37-yd punt return; the extra point kick was low and into the line and 68-Lemoto appeared to be the Monarch who blocked it. Hodge's 3rd sack forced a fumble, which Lomax recovered, and that set up SMC's 3rd TD. SMC's 4th TD came after Wooten's fumble recovery. 44-Lawless blocked the extra point for SMC. LA Valley got the ball back with 2:54 left and reached midfield but Lyons' interception with 53 seconds left clinched the win for SMC. This is SMC's 31st straight win in conference play.