For the eighth time in the last 12 years, Cerritos College and Long Beach City College have played a football game that has been decided by seven or fewer points. This past Saturday night's game was no different, as the Falcons (6-2 overall, 2-1 North Division) escaped with a 28-23 Mission Conference Northern Division victory. With the win, coupled with Pasadena City (7-1 overall, 2-1 North Division) losing to El Camino, Cerritos is now in a three-way tie for the division lead with the Vikings and Lancers. This Saturday, the Falcons will host the Lancers at 7:00 p.m., while LBCC (5-3 overall, 2-1 North Division) will host Mt. San Antonio. With a win, the Falcons will move ahead of Pasadena City and will lead the division even if Long Beach City wins due to their win this past weekend.
With the Falcons leading 28-23, after sophomore quarterback Mike Harrison (Mayfair) connected with freshman wide receiver Randy Raphiel (Cerritos) for a 10-yard touchdown with 4:27 left in the game, LBCC had one last chance to win. The Cerritos defense had just held the Vikings with 2:17 left in the game, forcing them to punt. But sophomore linebacker Philip Perry (Lakewood) was flagged for roughing the kicker, which kept their drive alive. Once again, the Falcons shut down the Vikings and stopped them on a fourth down play when freshman linebacker Justin Burks (Bellflower) tackled LBCC quarterback Brandon Fasavalu shy of the first down marker.
The Falcon offense was unable to run out the clock and were forced to punt the ball away. Taking over at their own 30-yard line, Fasavalu connected on a 40-yard pass followed by a
13-yard pass, placing the ball at the Cerritos 22-yard line. After an incomplete pass, Fasavalu was sacked by sophomore defensive end Chris Eagen (Pacifica) for a four-yard loss. With no timeouts remaining, Fasavalu just needed to spike the ball to stop the clock, but instead, put his knee down after the snap. The clock ran out and the Falcons came away with a 28-23 win.
This week's game against the Lancers will be one in which the Falcons will have to stop the most potent offense in the conference. Pasadena City comes into the contest averaging 524 yards a game, but suffered their first loss of the season last weekend when El Camino handed them a 20-13 decision. The Lancers are also averaging 40.1 points a game and are limiting their opponents to 17.8 points and 292.5 yards a game.
Their offense revolves around sophomore running back Jonathan Smith, who leads the conference with 1,306 yards and 14 touchdowns, while 6-7 sophomore quarterback Nathan Chandler has thrown for 1,979 yards and 18 touchdowns. Smith, who broke Jackie Robinson's school single-season touchdown record with 20 touchdowns, is also their leading receiver with 37 receptions.
However, in the team's win over the Vikings, the Falcons continued to take advantage of their opponent's mistakes. On the first play from scrimmage, freshman cornerback Carchell Wright (Ramapo, NY) picked off Jason Baughman and returned the ball to the Viking 35-yard line. Just like last week, Cerritos took advantage of a turnover on the first play of the game and Harrison found sophomore wide receiver Chris Chatman (Tustin) for a touchdown. Chatman used great concentration to make the catch after LBCC's Rashan Brooks tipped the ball. On the extra point, the ball was snapped high and the Vikings' Adam Nyssen scooped up the ball and returned it for a two-point extra point return.
That didn't discourage Cerritos, as sophomore free safety Chares Allgood (Washington) stopped the Vikings' ensuing drive when he picked off Baughman at the Falcon 15-yard line and went 85 yards untouched for a touchdown, giving the team a 13-2 lead.
The Vikings came right back and scored and even held a 14-13 lead at the end of the first quarter. But the lead was short-lived, as freshman kicker Adam Sonntag (Long Beach Millikan) kicked a 31-yard field goal :14 seconds into the second quarter to give the Falcons a 16-14 advantage.
After Harrison drove the Falcons 73 yards on 10 plays, culminating with a 20-yard scoring strike to Chatman, Perry stepped in front of a Baughman pass at the Falcon goal line and brought it back 39 yards to halt the Vikings on their next drive. Cerritos took a 22-14 lead into the half, but Long Beach City would score the next nine points to hold a 23-22 lead.
The game-winning score was set up by the fourth interception of the night by Baughman. Faced with a third-and-13 at their own 15-yard line, freshman cornerback Burnell Jordan (Locke) picked off a pass and brought it back to the Viking nine-yard line. After a running play for negative yardage, Harrison (21-34, 249 yards, 3 TD's) hooked up with Raphiel, who caught a season-high eight passes on the night.
Cerritos allowed 479 yards of offense, but the defense stiffened when they needed to and recorded the big play numerous times. Offensively, freshman running back Jermaine Whiten (Cerritos) led the team with 79 yards on 10 carries, while freshman Josh Herrera (La Habra) added 58 yards on 12 carries. Chatman caught eight passes for 129 yards and two scores, while Raphiel accounted for 73 yards on his eight receptions.
On defense, the Falcons used the depth at linebacker to record most of their tackles. After missing last week with an injury, sophomore Rajaee Barnett (Downey) returned to register eight tackles and one quarterback sack, while sophomore linebackers Perry and John Lopez (St.
Paul) combined for 19 tackles and four quarterback hurries. Eagen had another fine game, as the pass rush specialist added eight tackles, 2 ½ sacks, three hurries, a tackle for loss and a knockdown. In addition, Wright finished with seven stops, as did Burks.