|The Brahmas, who
went 0-10 in 2001, used stingy defense and McCleary's big play to
upset Santa Monica, which entered the game ranked #9 in Southern
California and #17 in the nation by JC Grid-Wire.
Pierce won the game despite
generating only one touchdown, 11 first downs and 216 yds of total
offense. But the Brahmas
avoided turning the ball over, and the defense limited Santa Monica to
just 117 yds of offense and 8 first downs after the first quarter to
post the shutout.
The game started well enough
for Santa Monica as they marched down the field into Brahma territory
behind the powerful running of 235-lb RB James Jackson.
However, when the drive stalled, the Corsairs tried a 44-yd field
goal, and it fell short. After getting the ball back, Santa Monica again drove into
Brahma territory but was again forced to try a field goal. This one, a 32-yd try, was blocked by Pierce's Victor
Thomas, keeping the game scoreless.
By the end of the first
quarter, Santa Monica had rolled up 124 yds of offense and 9 first downs
and had held the ball for over 11 minutes, but had nothing to show for
all that except the missed field goals.
Just over 4 minutes into the
second quarter, Pierce got its first scoring chance of the night.
LB Aaron Brown made a nifty play on an attempted screen pass as
he tipped the ball to himself and made the interception at the Corsair
21. However, the Brahma
offense lost 17 yds in the ensuing series and was forced to punt.
Santa Monica then embarked
on a lengthy drive to the Pierce 23, but the half ended before they
could put any points on the board.
For the first half, the Corsairs outgained Pierce 188 to minus-1
on offense and held the ball for over 21 minutes.
Still, the game remained 0-0 at intermission.
Pierce took the opening
kickoff of the second half, and suddenly their offense came to life.
Three completions by QB Mike Spargo to WR Delfino Hernandez got
the ball deep into Santa Monica territory.
After Hernandez' 3rd catch, a 43-yd effort, got the
ball to the 5 the Corsair defense held firm and forced a field goal
attempt. But John Wall's
22-yd attempt was blocked by Daryl Adams, keeping the score 0-0.
Pierce got another scoring
chance early in the 4th quarter when Thomas intercepted a
pass Haley appeared to be trying to throw out of bounds.
That again gave the Brahmas the ball at the Corsair 21.
But the offense again could not capitalize on the opportunity and
turned the ball over on downs at the 18.
Then the Pierce defense held
again, forcing Santa Monica to punt with just under 6 minutes left and
giving the ball back to the Brahma offense.
And that's when McCleary
got his chance to shine. On
his game-winning run, he took the pitch to the left and got around the
first defender to turn the corner.
Then he cut back inside his blockers, past the pursuit and into
the open field. And he
picked up more speed as he headed down the right sideline and into the
end zone untouched. His
spectacular dash ended with 4:40 left and gave Pierce the only points
they would need.
After Santa Monica got the
ball back, the Pierce defense held firm, not allowing even another first
down. The Corsairs were
forced to punt and hope their defense could get the ball back for one
But the Brahmas were able to
run out the clock. Powerful
RB Jermaine Moore carried 3 times for 29 yds, including a key 16-yd run
on a 3rd and 8, to keep the ball away from Santa Monica.
For the night, McCleary
finished as Pierce's leading rusher with 63 yds on 9 carries.
Moore added 37 yds on 15 carries.
Spargo went 5 of 15 passing for 99 yds, and 4 of those passes
went to Delfino Hernandez for 91 yds.
Among the many standouts on
defense were Brown, who had a full sack, 2 half-sacks and an
interception; Thomas, with an interception and a blocked field goal; LB
Anthony Roberts, who had a full sack and a half sack; and Safety Leon
Friend, who was most unfriendly towards the Corsair receivers.
His big hits early in the game helped set the tone for the Brahma
defense and undoubtedly contributed to a number of dropped Corsair
passes early in the game.
For Santa Monica, QB Mike Haley finished 18 of 30 for 123 yds, but he also had 2 interceptions. Jackson rushed 20 times for 107 yds to lead all runners. WR Samuel Knight caught 6 passes for 45 yds and WR Theron Shakir caught 4 passes for 32 yds to lead Corsair receivers.
Saturday, September 28, 2002
- 7 p.m.
LA Pierce College (Brahmas)
1st Quarter: No
Pierce Tops Santa Monica, 7-0
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