But today, both the offense and defense had their best combined effort to earn Long Beach its first win of the season, an impressive 42-11 Mission Conference interdivision victory over visiting Santa Ana College at Cerritos College's Falcon Stadium.
Sophomore running back Richard Nichols (Jordan HS) had the best game of his collegiate career, rushing for 139 yards on 17 carries with three touchdowns.
Nichols got the Vikings on the board with his 16-yard score with 7:37 left in the first quarter. Then at the 1:50 mark, Nichols broke free for a career-best 70-yard touchdown run to put Long Beach up 14-0.
Santa Ana bounced back with a 10-play, 80-yard drive in the second quarter. Freshman quarterback Daniel Morales hit freshman wide receiver Chris Duplessis for a 22-yard touchdown with 11:37 left in the half. The Dons failed to convert on the extra point attempt and trailed 14-6.
The Dons cut the lead to five points after Curtis Gladden nailed a 32-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to enter the locker room down 14-9.
Santa Ana got even closer after an LBCC fumble in their opening drive of the third quarter. Quarterback Alex Aispuro (Jordan) was sacked at his own 14-yard line and lost the ball, which was recovered by Santa Ana's Daniel Harris in the end zone for a safety. LBCC's lead was cut to three, 14-11.
With momentum on Santa Ana's side, the LBCC defense came alive.
After the safety free kick, Morales first pass attempt was intercepted by LBCC freshman linebacker Antonio Steele (St. Peter Chanel, OH) at the Santa Ana 40-yard line. Three plays later, Aispuro connected with sophomore wide receiver Jerryll Martin (Wilson) for a 27-yard reception to set up Nichols third TD of the day, a one-yard rush to put LBCC up 21-11.
The Viking defense came up with a big stop in the fourth quarter, stuffing a Santa Ana fourth-down and six-yards to go attempt at the Long Beach 30-yard line.
Following the defensive stop, Aispuro completed three big passes, hitting sophomore James Wilson (Jordan) for 12 yards, sophomore Khalid Abdur Rahim for 22 yards, and capped the drive with a 36-yard touchdown strike to Martin to put the Vikings up 28-11 with 8:51 left in the fourth.
On Santa Ana's next play, backup quarter back Rick Taloa's pass was picked off. This time, sophomore free safety Marquell Ricks (San Pedro) took it all the way back 23 yards for another LBCC touchdown (35-11, 8:37).
Sophomore corner back Joe Garcia (Los Alamitos) came up with Long Beach's
fifth interception and ran back Taloa's pass 42 yards to set up Long Beach's
final touchdown, a four-yard run by sophomore Dion Myers
(Wilson) with 4:19 left in the game (42-11).
Aispuro bounced back from a tough game last week and threw for 214 yards on
16 for 28 passing with one TD and an interception. Freshman wide receiver Grant
Thorne (San Pedro) led the Vikings with five catches for
Santa Ana (2-1) sophomore running back Dartangan Johnson, who entered the game ranked second in the state in rushing, led the Dons with 104 yards rushing. Morales went 16 for 33 for 156 yards with three interceptions and a touchdown.
The Vikings (1-2) return to action next Saturday (Sept. 25), when they travel to Riverside Community College for a Mission Conference interdivision game. Kickoff is set for 5 pm.
* - Game stats available at