Long Beach (10-1) rallied from a 23-10 third-quarter deficit, only to see Cerritos (8-3) re-take the lead with 4:08 left when Jimmy Walker threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Dashawn Gordon. But that four-plus minutes proved to be just enough time for Long Beach to answer, with Lowary having the final word.
The game started out with Cerritos pulling out some plays from the back of the playbook. On the opening kickoff, the ball went to Norman Unga-Solomon, who toss the ball back to Robert Gordon to continue the return. Then on the first play from scrimmage, running back Jason Floyd threw a pass on a halfback option play to De'Jai Whitaker for a 43-yard touchdown pass, giving the Falcons a 7-0 lead just 21 seconds into the first quarter.
Long Beach answered with a 13-play drive that ended with a short field goal to make it 7-3, and that was the score at the end of the first quarter. Cerritos extended its lead with a long drive of its own, with Floyd scoring on a 2-yard run to push the Falcons' advantage to 14-3. Lowary threw a 52-yard touchdown pass to Mike Wilson just over two minutes later, and the Vikings got the ball back after Cerritos missed a field goal. But Cerritos' D.J. Reed intercepted a Lowary pass at his own 27 and took it the distance for a pick-six, stretching the Falcon lead back to 11 points at 21-10 at the half.
An exchange of punts to start the second half worked to Cerritos' advantage when the Falcons' Corey Bojorquez, who led the state in punting average this season, had his kick downed at the Viking 1 yard-line. Two plays later, safety Deon Smalls tackled Long Beach running back Darren Johnson in the end zone for a safety, extending Cerritos' lead to 23-10.
Long Beach put together another long drive that ended with a field goal, covering 69 yards in 14 plays before Sergio Garcia's 28-yard kick made it 23-13 with 1:46 left in the third quarter. Then on the ensuing kickoff, Garcia pooched a kick that Anthony Brittman recovered for the Vikings at the Falcon 23. Three plays later, Johnson atoned for his safety by scoring on a 14-yard touchdown run to cut the Cerritos lead to three points at 23-20.
Then the Vikings got the ball back less than a minute later when Chazz Sanders intercepted a Walker pass and returned it 40 yards to the Cerritos 14. After a holding penalty pushed the ball back 10 yards, Lowary found Jaylen Watson for a 24-yard touchdown pass to give Long Beach its first lead of the game with 14:21 left in the fourth quarter. That lead lasted until Walker's touchdown pass to Gordon, but Lowary had the final word with his 2-yard run.
Cerritos had one last chance to answer in the final seconds, and on the final play Walker lofted a pass towards the end zone. The ball was batted out of the air by a Viking right to Delvin Mosley, but the Falcon receiver was tackled at the Long Beach 5. The clock had already gone to zeroes, so as soon as the whistle blew Long Beach had the victory.
For Long Beach, Lowary completed 24 of 45 passes for 350 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception. He was named the Offensive Player of the Game. Wilson caught 9 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown, earning MVP honors. Johnson carried the ball 23 times for 119 yards and a touchdown.
For Cerritos, Walker completed 8 of 22 passes for 134 yards and 3 interceptions, but was nearly the hero with his touchdown pass with 4:08 to play. Eight different Falcons caught at least one pass, led by Whitaker with 2 catches for 79 yards and a touchdown. Kishawn Holmes rushed for 78 yards on 14 attempts, and Floyd carried the ball 8 times for 50 yards, also throwing the touchdown pass on the option play. Linebacker Keith Walker, who had 1.5 sacks and was a visible presence all night on defense, was named Defensive Player of the Game for the Falcons.
With the win, Long Beach advances to the Southern California championship game next Saturday at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo. And of course JCFootball.com will be there!
Long Beach Vikings 34, Cerritos Falcons 30
Saturday, November 21, 2015 – 7 pm – Falcon Stadium, Norwalk
Southern California Bowl / Regional Semifinal Playoff
C – Whitaker 43 yd pass from Floyd (Saldana kick) 14:39 (0-7)
LB – FG Garcia 23 yds 9:33 (3-7)
C – Floyd 2 yd run (Saldana kick) 8:55 (3-14)
LB – Wilson 52 yd pass from Lowary (Garcia kick) 6:54 (10-14)
C – Reed 73 yd interception return (Saldana kick) 1:44 (10-21)
C – Safety – D.Johnson tackled in end zone by Smalls 9:46 (10-23)
LB – FG Garcia 28 yds 1:46 (13-23)
LB – D.Johnson 14 yd run (Garcia kick) 0:33 (20-23)
LB – Watson 24 yd pass from Lowary (Garcia kick) 14:21 (27-23)
C – D.Gordon 26 yd pass from J.Walker (Saldana kick) 4:08 (27-30)
LB – Lowary 2 yd run (Garcia kick) 0:34 (34-30)
First Downs: Cerritos 14 (5 rush, 6 pass, 3 penalty), Long Beach 27 (11 rush, 15 pass, 1 penalty)
Rushes-Yds: Cerritos 29-137, Long Beach 45-124
Passing Yds: Cerritos 177, Long Beach 350
Comp-Att-Int: Cerritos 9-25-3, Long Beach 24-45-1
Return Yds: Cerritos 183, Long Beach 200
Sacks-Yds: Cerritos 4-38, Long Beach 2-8
Fumbles-Lost: Cerritos 1-0, Long Beach 0-0
Penalties-Yds: Cerritos 3-10, Long Beach 11-81
Time of Possession: Cerritos 23:18, Long Beach 36:42
Rushing: C 5-Holmes 14-78, 26-Floyd 8-50, 4-D.Gordon 2-9, 33-R.Gordon 2-5, 25-Crowder 1-3, 7-J.Walker 2-(-8); LB 24-Darren Johnson 23-119, 21-Dixon 5-15, 8-Harris 3-6, 1-Wilson 1-5, 2-Webb 1-1, 17-Regpala 1-0, 19-Lowary 11-(-22)
Passing: C 7-Jimmy Walker 8-22-3-134, 1 TD; 26-Floyd 1-1-0-43, 1 TD; team 0-2-0-0; LB 19-Jack Lowary 24-45-1-350, 2 TDs
Receiving: C 11-Whitaker 2-79, 9-Mosley 1-32, 4-D.Gordon 1-26, 10-White 1-17, 33-R.Gordon 1-13, 16-Rogers 1-12, 34-Van Dam 1-0, 5-Holmes 1-(-5); LB 1-Mike Wilson 9-197, 4-Scroggins 5-68, 5-Welch 4-48, 24-D.Johnson 4-18, 7-Watson 1-24, 8-Harris 1-(-5)
Interceptions-Ret Yds: C 7-Reed 1-73; LB 13-Goudeau 1-42, 31-Sanders 1-40, 22-Iakopo 1-13
Sacks: C 8-K.Walker 1½, 45-Fangupo, 94-Price, 9-Bush ½; LB 11-Fatu, team
Punters: C 31-Bojorquez 4-42.0 avg, 7-J.Walker 1-40; LB 17-Regpala 5-29.4 avg
Kick Returns: C 33-R.Gordon 2-62, 7-Reed 1-11, 24-Murray 1-6, 43-Unga-Soloman 1-4; LB 7-Watson 3-38, 8-Stevens 2-34, 80-J.Johnson 1-31
Punt Returns: C 24-Floyd 2-27; LB 7-Watson 1-2
Missed FG: C 37-Saldana 37 yds (wide right); LB none
Notes: Long Beach improves to 10-1 and will face Saddleback next Saturday in the SoCal championship game. Cerritos finishes 8-3. Cerritos' 1st TD came on a halfback option pass on the Falcons' 1st play from scrimmage following a lateral on the game's opening kickoff return. One of Bojorquez' punts was downed at the LB 1, and the safety soon followed. Long Beach tried a pooch kick after its 2nd FG and 30-Brittman recovered, setting up the ensuing TD. LB's 3rd TD came after Sanders' interception. After Lowary's game-winning TD Cerritos had one final chance and Walker's last pass of the game was deflected from near the goal line to Mosley, but he was tackled at the 5. MVP: Wilson. Offensive Player of the Game: Lowary. Defensive Player of the Game: Keith Walker, Cerritos.