El Camino's Defense Holds Off Cerritos

El Camino (4-1) got a strong game from QB Matt Engle, who passed for 311 yards and a pair of big plays on offense, and the Warrior defense came up big on a dramatic goal line stand in the game's final minute in a 14-7 win over visiting Cerritos (3-2) October 4th.

Engle combined with WR Joseph Kensey on a 56-yard pass in the first quarter for one TD, and with RB Josh Ford on a 52-yard pass in the fourth quarter to set up another.  Ford, filling in for star RB Chris Howard (suspended for 1 game for missing practices), scored moments later on a 5-yard run to break a 7-7 tie.

This game was a battle of defense and ball control, as the teams combined for just 21 pts and each team got the ball just 3 times in the second half.  El Camino got most of its offense through the air, while Cerritos moved the ball on the ground, and each defense came up with a goal line stand.  And El Camino also came up empty after driving to the Falcon 4-yard line in the first quarter when Engle, when he reached out with the ball to try to break the plane of the goal line, fumbled into the end zone, giving the ball to Cerritos on a touchback.

El Camino took advantage of some confusion to score the game's first touchdown.  Cerritos had faced a 4th down at its own 49 and lined up as if to punt.  But the Falcons tried a fake punt play, as punter George Villa rolled to the right, and threw the ball to WR John Brasfield.  The play gained just 7 yards though, short of the first down, and there were flags on the play for linemen downfield.  El Camino refused the penalty to get the ball, but Cerritos was still getting its defense onto the field when the Warriors snapped the ball.  Kensey sprinted down the middle of the field and got behind the defense, and Engle hit him in stride, resulting in a 56-yard scoring play.  That turned out to be the only scoring in the first half.

Cerritos tied the game on a 10-play, 78-yard drive in the third quarter when  Daniel Dixon carried the ball in from the 3.  El Camino tried to answer back, and embarked on an 11-play, 64 yard drive when they got the ball back, but eventually faced a goal line stand by the Cerritos defense.  On 4th and goal from the 1, the ball went to FB Craigston Robbins, but the Falcon defense, led by LB Eric Portley, stopped him short of the goal line, turning the ball over.

At the end of the next Cerritos possession, the Falcons faced a 4th down at the Warrior 39.  Michael Keeling tried a pooch punt, his second of the game, but things went awry when DL Leon Lautalo broke through, possible deflecting the ball.  Whether or not the ball was touched, the punt ended up going just 8 yards, giving El Camino the ball at the 31.  Four plays later, Ford took an Engle pass near the left sideline and found plenty of running room.  He was finally forced out of bounds at the 5, but on the next play Ford scored to give El Camino a lead.

Then came Cerritos' final drive to try to tie the game. A 10-play, 75-yard drive began with a 16-yard run by Chris Velasquez and was helped by a 15-yard late hit penalty on the Warriors.  A 7-yard run by Velasquez brought the ball to the 5, giving the Falcons 1st and goal.  But three plays only got the ball to the 1, setting up 4th and goal, and then the El Camino defense held.  Dixon took the ball, but was met by ECC LBs Elias Ellis and Kasey Switchler, and stopped short of the goal line.  That gave El Camino the ball back with 47 seconds left, effectively ending the game.

Engle completed 12 of 22 passes for 311 yards and a TD, though he also had 2 interceptions.  Maful Leilua led Warrior runners with 42 yards on 12 carries.  Ford added 37 yards on 8 carries, including a TD, and had 2 catches for a game-high 83 yards.  TE Kolomona Kapanui had 3 catches for 54 yards and put the hit of the night on Cerritos DB Tim McCulloch.  McCulloch had actually tried to nail Kapanui on the play, but the big tight end kept his shoulder down and hardly even broke stride.  McCulloch ended up flying through the air and had to be helped off the field.

For Cerritos, Velasquez led the way with 132 yards on 28 yards rushing, while Dixon added 76 yards on 15 carries and scored a TD.  WR Danny Kirkpatrick led all receivers with 6 catches, good for 53 yards.  Keeling finished 10 of 20 for 87 yards passing, and added 36 yards rushing (54 if the sacks are subtracted).

Cerritos lost despite controlling the ball for 34:35 and not committing a turnover.  But they didn't have a play for more than 20 yards all night, and had the unsuccessful fake punt play and the short pooch kick.  That, and not being able to punch the ball in on that final sequence, proved to be their undoing.

Scoring summary:

1st Quarter:

EC – Kensey 56 yard pass from Engle (Lovell kick) 0:23 -- 7-0

2nd Quarter:

No Scoring

3rd Quarter:

C – Dixon 3 yard run (James kick) 7:17 -- 7-7

4th Quarter:

EC – Ford 5 yard run (Lovell kick) 6:35 -- 14-7

Team Statistics: El Camino Cerritos
First Downs 17 (12 pass; 5 run) 20 (5 pass; 13 run; 2 pen)
Rushes – Yards 29-93 51-244
Passing Yards 311 94
Comp - Att – Int 12-22-2 11-21-0
Return Yards 39 74
Sacks – Yards 2-18 1-5
Fumbles – Lost 3-1 1-0
Penalties – Yards 6-46 5-30
Time of Possession 25:25 34:35

Individual Statistics:


EC:  5-Leilua 12-42, 19-Ford 8-37, 12-Engle 7-10, 34-McCall 1-4, 31-Robbins 1-0
C:  25-Velasquez 28-132, 4-Dixon 15-76, 16-Keeling 8-36


EC:  12-Engle 12-22-2-311, 1 TD
C:  16-Keeling 10-20-0-87; 98-Villa 1-1-0-7


EC:  88-Kapanui 3-54, 21-Laolagi 3-30, 19-Ford 2-83, 34-McCall 2-34, 9-Cooper 2-23, 85-Haley 2-21, 1-Kensey 1-56, 5-Leilua 1-6, 35-Gay-Lyles 1-3
C:  5-Kirkpatrick 6-53, 25-Velasquez 2-18, 10-G.Smith 1-11, 83-Brasfield 1-7, 80-Endemano 1-5


EC:  13-Dragich 4-41.3 avg
C:  98-Villa 5-44.8 avg; 16-Keeling 2-26.5 avg

Kick Ret:

EC:  15-Boyard 1-19, 31-Robbins 1-17
C:  81-Allen 1-22, 45-Nawahine 1-5

Punt Ret:

EC:  15-Boyard 1-3
C:  10-G.Smith 3-14, 81-Allen 1-19, 11-Simmons 1-6

Int-Ret Yards:

EC:  none
C:  7-Portley 1-6, 6-McCulloch 1-2

Fum Rec:

EC:  none
C:  team (fumble through end zone)


EC:  10-Taufoou 1-10, 48-Sitchler 1-8
C:  58-August 1-5


El Camino entered 3-1, #7 South, #16 JCGW; Cerritos entered 3-1, #10 South. Kensey's TD came amidst some confusion.  Cerritos had just tried a fake punt play (Villa's pass to Brasfield) and there was a lineman downfield penalty.  ECC rightly refused the penalty and took the ball, but Cerritos was still getting their defense onto the field when the ball was snapped.  Kensey took off down the middle and got behind everyone, and Engle threw him the ball. The ECC defense held on the game's key sequence:  a goal-line stand that began as a 1st and goal from the 5 and ended with 43-Ellis and 48-Sitchler stopping Dixon on 4th and 1 with 47 secs left. A 52-yard pass from Engle to Ford set up Ford's rushing TD, which followed Keeling's 2nd pooch kick (which went just 8 yards and might have been partially deflected by 42-Lautalo). The hit of the night came when Kapanui received a pass and McCulloch lowered the boom on him…except it was McCulloch who went flying and needed assistance leaving the field while Kapanui never left his feet. The Cerritos defense also had a goal-line stand, capped by Portley's stop at the 1 in late 3rd qtr. Each team only had the ball 3 times (not counting ECC's kneel-downs) in the second half.


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