Mt. SAC Rallies For Win at Cerritos

Derek Devine passed for 170 yards and Jacob Flowe rushed for 102 but it was the defense that allowed Mt. San Antonio (7-1, 3-0 in the Mission Conference's American Division) to rally for three fourth-quarter touchdowns and then hold on to beat host Cerritos (2-6, 1-2) in the second game of the Mission Bash doubleheader at Falcon Stadium October 30th.

Touchdown returns from LB Ryan O'Shields on a fumble and DB Jason Martin on an interception, along with a Devine TD pass to WR Michael Howard, helped the Mounties overcome a 3-point deficit in the final quarter after losing a 12-point halftime lead in a topsy-turvy game.

Most of the better offensive numbers came from the Cerritos squad, but Mt. San Antonio capitalized on enough Falcon mistakes to compensate for all that.  Not only did O'Shields and J. Martin score for the defense, DB Tommy Musa recovered an errant punt snap for a touchdown late in the first half and the Mounties were awarded a safety after another bad punt snap 30 seconds later.  And Mt. SAC's first score of the night, a 33-yard field goal by Brian Giambastiani, came after DE Jeffrey Steemer recovered a Falcon fumble at the Cerritos 17 just 1:44 into the game.

Though most of the first quarter was played deep in the Cerritos end of the field, that field goal was the only score of the opening 15 minutes.  Mt. SAC drove to the Cerritos 1-yard line later in the period, but after a pair of penalties faced 3rd and goal at the 11 when Devine fumbled.  Cerritos DE Dan Kuykendall picked up the ball and rambled down the field for an apparent 87-yard touchdown return, but the runback was shortened by a downfield holding penalty.  That infraction became even bigger when Cerritos gained only 3 yards on the next 3 plays and was forced to punt, still trailing 3-0.

Mt. San Antonio extended its lead early in the second quarter on an 8-play, 48-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard TD run by Kesena Ekpre-Olomu.  A 13-yard run by FB Tommy Bullock got the drive started, and a 23-yard pass from Devine to Anthony Walker moved the ball to the Cerritos 11.  After a 9-yard run by Ekpre-Olomu got the Mounties close, it took just 2 more plays for Mt. SAC to extend its lead to 10-0 with 11:48 left in the second quarter.

To this point, Cerritos had yet to gain a single first down on offense.  That changed dramatically on the next play when RB Jaron Johnson burst through the left side for what looked like a 56-yard gain.  But there was a flag on the play, and holding downfield on Cerritos was the call.  That shortened the run considerably, but the play still gained 15 net yards to give the Falcons their first first down of the game.  After another first down – on a 13-yard run by Johnson – the drive stalled once again, and once again Cerritos had to punt.

But then the Mt. SAC offense made a mistake to let Cerritos back into the game.  Devine threw a short pass to Walker, who gained 6 yards before the ball popped out and Eric Camarillo recovered for Cerritos at the Falcon 37.  And on the very next play, Cerritos QB Kevin Brown connected with WR Michael Chowtham on a 63-yard TD pass to make it 10-7.

After a Mt. SAC punt, Cerritos got the ball back with 1:24 to play in the half and started trying to move down the field and score, using a timeout and reaching their 49-yard line.  But then Mt. SAC's DT Aaron Tonga broke through and sacked Brown for a 12-yard loss.  An incomplete pass brought up 4th down, and that's when the trouble really set in for Cerritos.  As they lined up in punt formation, the snap sailed high over punter Craig James' head and into the end zone.  A scramble for the ball ensued, and the player who ended up with the ball was Tommy Musa, giving the Mounties a touchdown to make it 17-7 with 39 seconds left in the half.

Cerritos got the ball back after the kickoff, and this time Mt. SAC used its timeouts to force another Cerritos punt.  That strategy paid off as on fourth down, the punt snap once again flew over James' head and into the end zone.  This time Cerritos' Terrance Newman was able to minimize the damage by swatting the ball over the end line rather than letting Mt. SAC recover, but it was still a safety, giving the Mounties a 19-7 lead and a huge burst of momentum.

When the teams returned to the field, however, it was Cerritos that dominated the third quarter to take a 22-19 lead.  After the opening kickoff, the Falcons needed just four plays to score.  A 17-yard run by Johnson got the ball across midfield, and then Brown hooked up with WR Anthony Oliver on a nice pass down the sideline from the score.  Oliver ran past his defender and the pass hit him in stride for a 48-yard TD play.  And later in the quarter, Cerritos took the lead on a 27-yard run by Johnson to cap a quick 5-play drive that began at the 50. 

Despite their terrible first quarter on offense and the mistake-prone final minute of the half, the Falcons entered the fourth quarter with a lead, conjuring up memories of last year's meeting when Cerritos rallied from a 21-0 deficit to knock off a previously-unbeaten Mt. San Antonio team, 28-21.

But then another Cerritos mistake allowed the Mounties to re-claim the lead and now allow a repeat of 2003.  Johnson took the handoff and started through the left side when the ball popped out.  Mt. SAC's Ryan O'Shields picked up the ball at the 26 and just kept running, covering the 74 yards to the end zone in a few seconds to give the Mounties a 26-22 lead with 14:42 left in the game.

Cerritos answered back on their next drive, a 14-play, 82-yard march that chewed up nearly 6 minutes of time.  The big play was a 34-yard pass from Brown to Oliver that got the ball to the 19.  Then came a 14-yard pass to Chowtham that gave Cerritos 1st and goal at the 5-yard line.  But then the Falcons got conservative, giving the ball to Johnson on inside handoffs on the next two plays.  Both runs were stopped for no gain, and on third down Brown was thrown for a 3-yard loss on a keeper.  On came C. James, who kicked a 25-yard field goal to close the margin to a single point at 26-25 with 8:55 left on the clock.

Then came perhaps Mt. San Antonio's best drive of the game, an 8-play march that featured a lot of 225-lb RB Jacob Flowe and took nearly 5 minutes and gave the visitors an 8-point margin.  A 30-yard kickoff return by Melvin Matlock Jr. got the ball to the 34, and a 9-yard pass from Devine to Bullock moved it to the 43.  A 24-yard run by Flowe straight up the middle put the Mounties well into Cerritos territory.  Devine then connected with Chowtham for a 10-yard gain and another first down before giving the ball back to Flowe, who bowled through the defense for 11 yards and another first down at the Falcon 13.  Two more runs by Flowe got the ball to the 6, but a false start penalty on Mt. SAC turned a 3rd and 4 at the 7 into a passing situation.  So Devine went to the air, connecting with Howard for a 12-yard TD pass to make it 33-25.

Cerritos still had plenty of time to rally and trailed by just a score with 4:14 left on the clock, but the Mt. SAC defense not only made sure that lead was safe but managed to increase the margin to 15.  After Cerritos drove to the Mounties' 47-yard line, Musa intercepted a Brown pass at the 27 with 2:21 left.  But the Mounties couldn't run out the rest of the time as Cerritos forced a punt.  After a 48-yard kick by Alan Gomez, Cerritos got the ball back at its 15 with 52 seconds left.  Brown started off well enough with a 13-yard completion to Chowtham, but on the very next play Jason Martin made the game-clinching interception near midfield and returned it down the right sideline for the score to make it 40-25.

With the win, Mt. San Antonio moves to 7-1 and retains command of the American Division of the Mission Conference.  Devine finished 17 of 29 passing for 170 yards and a TD while Flowe led Mt. SAC rushers with 102 yards on 12 carries.  Shane Martin led Mt. SAC receivers with 4 catches for 40 yards.

For Cerritos, Brown finished with good numbers – 18 of 37 for 298 yards and 2 TDs – despite a rough start and the 2 late interceptions.  Johnson finished with 138 yards on 23 carries to lead all rushers.  And both Oliver (5 catches, 103 yards) and Chowtham (4 catches, 102 yards) topped the century mark in yards receiving.

The loss is the 6th of the season for Cerritos, clinching their first losing season since 1988.

Scoring Summary

1st Quarter:
M – FG Giambastiani 33 yds 12:07 -- 3-0

2nd Quarter:
M – Ekpre-Olomu 1 yd run (Giambastiani kick) 11:48 -- 10-0
C – Chowtham 63 yd pass from Brown (C.James kick) 5:02 -- 10-7
M – Musa recovered bad punt snap in end zone (Giambastiani kick) 0:39 -- 17-7
M – Safety – ball swatted out of end zone 0:09 -- 19-7 

3rd Quarter:
C – Oliver 48 yd pass from Brown (Fantz pass from Brown) 14:05 -- 19-15
C – Johnson 27 yd run (C.James kick) 6:20 -- 19-22                                                       

4th Quarter:
M - O'Shields 74 yd fumble return (Giambastiani kick) 14:42 -- 26-22
C – FG C.James 25 yds 8:55 -- 26-25
M – Howard 12 yd pass from Devine (Giambastiani kick) 4:14 -- 33-25
M – J.Martin 48 yd interception return (Giambastiani kick) 0:30 -- 40-25

Team Statistics: Cerritos Mt. San Antonio
First Downs 21 (7 run; 12 pass; 2 pen) 18 (9 run; 8 pass; 1 pen)
Rushes – Yards 32-120 40-196
Passing Yards 298 170
Comp - Att – Int 18-37-2 17-29-0
Return Yards 142 220
Sacks – Yards 0-0 3-18
Fumbles – Lost 2-2 3-2
Penalties – Yards 7-60 18-170
Time of Possession 26:51 33:09      

Individual Statistics:

Rushing: C:  29-Johnson 23-138, 36-Renaud 2-(-2), 12-Brown 7-(-16) M:  40-Flowe 12-102, 20-Ekpre-Olomu 13-52, 44-Bullock 7-20, 27-Allen 3-17, 5-Tavake 2-5, 2-Devine 3-0

Passing: C:  12-Brown 18-37-2-298, 2 TDs M:  2-Devine 17-29-0-170, 1 TD

Receiving: C:  19-Oliver 5-103, 6-Chowtham 4-102, 11-Simmons 4-34, 17-Enriquez 3-51, 88-Fantz 1-13, 29-Johnson 1-5 M:  6-S.Martin 4-40, 44-Bullock 3-31, 83-Howard 2-20, 11-Bowie 2-16, 19-Walker 1-23, 14-Lindsey 1-11, 82-Carothers 1-9, 81-Suarez 1-9, 85-Steele 1-9, 5-Tavake 1-2

Int-Ret Yds: M:  10-J.Martin 1-48, 22-Musa 1-22                                           

Sacks-Yds: M:  99-Tonga 1-12, 58-Abdul-Muhaimin 1-5, 97-Scearce 1-1

Fum Rec: C:  99-Kuykendall, 3-Camarillo M:  45-Steemer, 32-O'Shields

Punters: C:  41-C.James 5-30.0 avg; 12-Brown 1-49 M:  54-Gomez 7-41.4 avg

Kick Ret: C:  19-Oliver 6-91, 18-Dill 1-50 M:  8-Matlock 5-127, 1-Smith 1-23

Punt Ret: C:  16-Reyes 2-1  M:  none

Notes: Mt. SAC entered 6-1, #4 in South; Cerritos entered 2-5.  Both Mt. SAC INTs, including the TD return, were in the final 2:21 of the game.  Kuykendall returned the fumble for what would have been an 89-yd TD but the return was called back on a blocking penalty.  Bad punt snaps by Cerritos caused the TD and the safety just before halftime.  Brown's punt was on a pooch kick.  Johnson had another 86 yards on 2 rushes called back on penalties.


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