Just a season ago, Santa Monica was 4-6, but with a win at East Los Angeles next week the Corsairs will claim the division crown. Citrus College enters the final week with the same 5-1 record in the conference, but Santa Monica holds the tie breaker, having defeated Citrus, 46-21, on September 27th behind Koral's 463 yards passing and 5 TDs.
Against Glendale, Koral completed 27 of 39 passes, and had just one interception, which came on a ball that deflected off a receiver's fingers. Two of the TD passes went to B.J. Vickers, who had 7 catches for 81 yards on the day. Ken Franklin and Chris Porter also caught TD passes from Koral, and Joel Rosenberg kicked a 26-yard field goal and was 4 for 4 on extra points.
Meanwhile, the Santa Monica defense was dominant all day. Allen had a hand in three of SMC's five sacks (a solo and two halves for 2 sacks total) and a fumble recovery to lead a defense that held Glendale to just 10 first downs on the afternoon. C.R. McCoy had an interception, and LB Tim Poseda was a big presence, registering a sack.
And then there was Santa Monica's defense against Glendale's punting game. Chris Myrick blocked one punt, Tim Post nearly blocked another and in still another punting situation Vaquero punter Rony Zelaya was forced to run with the ball as several Corsairs converged on him. The result was a 10-yard loss on the play, but any punt attempt would certainly have been blocked. Santa Monica applied heavy pressure on Zelaya all day, holding him to a 25-yard average per punt (which doesn't even include the blocked punt or the 10-yard loss on the run). The one time Zelaya was able to kick without pressure, he boomed a 48-yarder, but even that was returned 16 yards by Franklin to set up Santa Monica's first touchdown.
Santa Monica got on the board first on Koral's first TD pass, a 10-yard toss to Vickers midway through the first quarter. Following Franklin's return to the Corsair 48, it took SMC 9 plays to get on the board. Glendale evened things late in the quarter on a 79-yard run by Chris Berroud, who took the ball straight through the middle of the Santa Monica defense before angling towards the left sideline and into the end zone. That tied the game 7-7 with 3:26 left in the first quarter.
However, that would be it for the Glendale offense on the afternoon. And Santa Monica used a trick play on its next possession to take a lead it would hold the rest of the day. The play started as an end-around with Koral pitching the ball to Bryant Thompson, who went towards the left sideline. But just as the Glendale defense converged on him, Thompson stopped and threw the ball across the field (a backwards pass), back to Koral, who was near the right sideline. Then Koral threw the ball to a wide-open Ken Franklin, who was standing in the end zone with no Vaquero defender within 20 yards. That made it 14-7 with 1:24 left in the first quarter.
The punt block enabled Santa Monica to extend its lead early in the second quarter. Myrick broke through the middle of the line, blocking the kick, and Glendale's Bryan Gonzalez recovered it at the 8. There was some momentary confusion when no whistle blew, Gonzalez started running with the ball, and McCoy delivered a huge hit that knocked Gonzalez out of bounds and separated him from the ball. SMC's Marques Kelly picked up the ball and carried it into the end zone before the officials blew the play dead where Gonzalez first touched the ball. However, Koral's TD pass to Porter on the next play gave Santa Monica a 21-7 lead anyway.
Rosenberg's 26-yard field goal early in the third quarter pushed the lead to 24-7, and another Koral-to-Vickers TD pass early in the 4th made it 31-7. On the TD pass, Vickers made a spectacular grab as he fell in the back of the end zone. After that, it looked like the day was over for SMC's first team of offense.
However, when backup QB Mike Haley tried to throw a quick out on his first pass attempt, Glendale's Robert Harris read the play, made the interception and took it 46 yards for a TD. That closed the gap to 31-14 with over 9 minutes left. When SMC was unable to move the ball on its next possession, Koral came back on for the final series and helped the Corsairs take nearly 5 minutes off the clock and clinch the win.
In addition to Vickers, a pair of other SMC receivers had big days. Jahlamb Sinclair had 5 catches for 109 yards, and Franklin had 5 catches for 69 yards. Frank Romano led Corsair rushers with 49 yards on 14 carries.
For Glendale, Berroud led all rushers with 75 yards but except for his TD run he had a net of minus-4 yards, and also lost a fumble. Justin Smith had 37 yards on 5 carries and also returned a kickoff 38 yards. Adam Freeman (5-10-0, 54 yards) and David Parker (5-11-1, 90 yards) split the Glendale QB duties, and Tim Fields (3 catches, 40 yards) was the leading receiver. WR Thomas Riley had a 47-yard pass reception and a 64-yard kickoff return.
Harris not only scored a TD on an interception, but he also had Glendale's other interception. DT Leon Walker continued the strong play he's displayed all year; on one play he sacked Koral, knocked the ball loose and recovered the fumble. Tavit Kasbarian had a sack and a fumble recovery, though on different plays, as well.
And now Santa Monica has only East LA standing in their way of a playoff berth. It's been quite a turnaround for the Corsair program; not only were they 4-6 in 2002, but in 2001 they were 1-9 with their only win coming against a Pierce team that finished 0-10. But now, thanks largely to Koral, a division championship is within their reach.
SMC entered #16 in South and is now 6-3, 5-1 in WSC-S and 1 win away from a playoff spot. Glendale falls to 2-7, 2-3. 30-Myrick blocked the punt. 41-Post nearly blocked another GC punt and the kick went out of bounds at the line of scrimmage. Zelaya had to run another time or have his kick blocked. SMC's 2nd TD came on a double-lateral trick play. Vickers' punt was a quick-kick. For GC, Freeman played QB in 1st and 3rd qtrs while Parker played 2nd and 4th qtrs.
Rushing:G: 22-Berroud 7-75, 6-J.Smith 5-37, 4-Tyler 3-17, 2-Riley 1-5, 21-Pruitt 5-3, 41-Zelaya 1-(-10), 7-Freeman 8-(-16), 8-Parker 2-(-22)
SM: 21-Romano 14-49, 30-Myrick 5-18, 28-Little 2-2, 6-Sinclair 1-1, 19-Thompson 4-1, 38-Hughes 1-(-3), 29-Wallace 2-(-5), 7-Koral 8-(-5)
Passing:G: 8-Parker 5-11-1-90; 7-Freeman 5-10-0-54
SM: 7-Koral 27-39-1-336, 4 TDs; 15-Haley 2-4-1-18
Receiving:G: 5-Fields 3-40, 9-Elize 2-16, 2-Riley 1-47, 46-Mazal 1-18, 12-McDaniel 1-10, 36-Dincher 1-9, 22-Berroud 1-4
SM: 1-Vickers 7-81, 6-Sinclair 5-109, 16-Franklin 5-69, 19-Thompson 3-47, 2-Monroe 3-20, 21-Romano 3-7, 82-Porter 2-13, 4-Wilson 1-10
Punters:G: 41-Zelaya 7-25.0 + 1 blk
SM: 15-Haley 4-41.3 avg; 40-Rosenberg 2-28.0 avg; 1-Vickers 1-22
Kick Ret:G: 2-Riley 3-95, 24-Lipscomb 2-76, 6-J.Smith 1-38
SM: 6-Sinclair 1-11, 30-Myrick 1-8
Punt Ret:G: none
SM: 16-Franklin 3-23
Int-Ret Yards:G: 3-Harris 2-54
SM: 3-McCoy 1-0
Fum Rec-Ret:G: 51-Kasbarian 1-0, 65-Walker 1-0
SM: 35-B.Smith 1-9, 91-Allen 1-0
Sacks:G: 51-Kasbarian, 55-Workman, 65-Walker
SM: 91-Allen 2, 56-Poseda, 90-Jerger, 20-Green 1/2, 41-Post 1/2