But that was just enough to allow the host Mounties (8-1, 5-0) to come away with a thrilling 27-26 overtime win over the Falcons (8-1, 4-1) and take the driver's seat in what is probably the state's toughest division.
For nearly four hours, the teams battled on even terms. Cerritos scored a pair of touchdowns late in the first quarter to take a 14-3 lead. Mt. SAC got a field goal in the second quarter to trail by 8 at halftime, and a touchdown in the third quarter to trail by just a point, before finally taking a 20-17 lead with 11:27 left in the game. Cerritos answered with a field goal with 5:44 left to tie it at 20. Mt. SAC had two chances to take a lead in the final 3:20, but came away empty from two field goal attempts, sending the game to overtime. In OT, the Mounties scored first, and led, 27-20, after the extra point. Then Cerritos answered with a touchdown.
And the point was low into the line and blocked. That sent the Mt. SAC sideline into celebration, finally outlasting Cerritos in one of the most exciting games of the season to date. Though any of at least a half-dozen Mounties could have blocked the kick, lineman Andrwe Reupena and cornerback Arness Ikner seemed to lead the charge that smothered Francisco Rodriguez' kick into the ground.
That was just the final sequence of a game that had a great many twists and turns, with each side seemingly on the brink of clinching the win several times only to see the other side rally back into the game. After a ragged first half with an unseemly number of penalty flags, the second half and overtime featured solid, hard-hitting football between two of the top teams in the state.
Mt. SAC opened the scoring when, after taking the opening kickoff, the Mounties got a 39-yard field goal from Jeremy Brown just 3:42 into the game. But Cerritos answered with an 81-yard touchdown drive, capped by an incredible one-handed catch by Lucas Mealy in the end zone to make it 7-3. Then on the ensuing kickoff, Mt. SAC's Dylan Matsuda mishandled the pooch kick, and Cerritos' Cee Jay Harris recovered the ball at the Mt. SAC 26. After three penalties against Mt. SAC - two for pass interference - the ball was moved to the 1, and two plays later Demetrek Chambers scored on a 1-yard run to make it 14-3.
Mt. SAC chipped away at the lead in the second quarter when Brown hit a 40-yard field goal to make it 14-6. Then in the third quarter, Mt. SAC put together a 90-yard drive, with backup Tight End Kolby Arendse taking over at quarterback for part of the drive. It wasn't so much the Wildcat formation as a Mountain Lion formation with the 6-3, 225-pound Arendse at the helm, but the Mounties got within a point after Faulkner, back in the pocket, threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Jesse Canada, and Brown made the extra point to make it 14-13.
Cerritos got a break later in the third quarter when Mt. SAC's Deshawn Gaisie muffed a punt, and Ameer Webb recovered the ball for the Falcons at the Mounties' 28. That led to a 31-yard field goal by Rodriguez that made it 17-13. But Mt. SAC took the lead early in the fourth quarter with a little more Wildcat action. At the end of what became a 72-yard drive, running back Lancer Iosefa took the snap, started to run into the line, stopped suddenly and lofted a jump-pass over the line to 6-8, 295-pound tight end Tim Maka to make it 20-17 with 11:27 left in the game. But Cerritos pulled even just over five minutes later when Rodgiuez hit a 24-yard field goal to cap a short drive after Dion Curry's punt return to the Mt. SAC 35.
In the final few minutes, Mt. SAC had two chances to take a 23-20 lead. First, the Mounties got a 32-yard kickoff return from Ahmere Owens, bolstered by a 15-yard personal foul penalty against Cerritos, that got the ball to the Falcon 35. After one first down, the drive stalled, and out came Brown for a 38-yard field goal attempt. But Cerritos' Deon Goggins broke through the line and blocked the kick. Two plays later, Mt. SAC's Ronnie Gorforth intercepted a Chris Morales pass at the Mt. SAC 37, and again a Cerritos personal foul moved the ball into Falcon territory. But when that drive stalled and Brown again attempted the go-ahead field goal, this one from 42 yards out, either Goggins or Jeramey Cutler appeared to get a hand on the ball for a partial deflection, and the ball fell well short of the goal line, sending the game to overtime.
Cerritos won the coin toss at the start of overtime, so Mt. SAC went first on offense. Out came Arendse, the Mountain Lion, and he carried the ball four consecutive times, covering the 25 yards and scoring on a 3-yard run. Brown's extra point make it 27-20. Then Cerritos answered fairly quickly, needing just 5 plays to score on Jason Davis' 10-yard touchdown run. But then the blocked extra point gave Mt. SAC the win.
For Mt. SAC, Faulkner completed 22 of 40 passes for 206 yards and a TD. Canada led all receivers with 9 catches for 78 yards and a score. Lancer Iosefa led Mt. SAC rushers with 59 yards on 11 carries, and also threw the touchdown pass. Arendse had 43 yards on 9 carries. Defensive End Bruce Irvin had a pair of sacks to lead the defense.
For Cerritos, Morales completed 11 of 38 passes for 115 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Davis led all rushers with 118 yards on 24 carries. Joshua Robbins led the Falcons with 4 catches for 57 yards. Goggins led the defense with a sack and at least one blocked field goal attempt.
The win, coupled with last week's win against then-#1-ranked El Camino, vaults the Mounties into first place in the National Division Central Conference, and makes them the likely #1 seed if they can defeat Chaffey (4-5) next week in the regular season finale. Meanwhile, Cerritos falls to 8-1 overall and 4-1 in the conference, and faces El Camino in a winner-take-all showdown for a playoff spot next week in Norwalk. That means that either the team that entered this week ranked #1 in Southern California (Cerritos) before losing to Mt. SAC or the team that entered last week ranked #1 in Southern California (El Camino) before losing to Mt. SAC will miss the playoffs entirely. But that is the way things work in the rugged National-Central.
Mt. San Antonio Mounties 27 OT
Cerritos Falcons 26
Saturday, November 7, 2009 - 1 pm - Hilmer Lodge Stadium, Walnut
M - FG Brown 39 yds 11:18 (3-0)
C - Mealy 10 yd pass from Morales (Rodriguez kick) 3:29 (3-7)
C - Chambers 1 yd run (Rodriguez kick) 2:01 (3-14)
M - FG Brown 40 yds 8:55 (6-14)
M - Canada 4 yd pass from Faulkner (Brown kick) 8:30 (13-14)
C - FG Rodrigugez 31 yds 5:01 (13-17)
M - Maka 4 yd pass from L.Iosefa (Brown kick) 11:27 (20-17)
C - FG Rodriguez 24 yds 5:44 (20-20)
M - Arendse 3 yd run (Brown kick) (27-20)
C - Davis 10 yd run (kick blocked) (27-26)
First Downs: Mt. San Antonio 27 (11 rush, 12 pass, 4 penalty), Cerritos 22 (8 rush, 6 pass, 8 penalty)
Rushes-Yds: Mt. San Antonio 35-135, Cerritos 46-135
Passing Yds: Mt. San Antonio 210, Cerritos 115
Comp-Att-Int: Mt. San Antonio 23-41-0, Cerritos 11-39-1
Return Yds: Mt. San Antonio 52, Cerritos 172
Sacks-Yds: Mt. San Antonio 3-24, Cerritos 1-10
Fumbles-Lost: Mt. San Antonio 3-2, Cerritos 1-0
Penalties-Yds: Mt. San Antonio 13-125, Cerritos 10-103
Time of Possession: Mt. San Antonio 29:08, Cerritos 30:52
Rushing: Mt. SAC 28-L.Iosefa 11-59, 18-Arendse 9-43, 29-B.Iosefa 8-18, 17-Faulkner 3-9, 3-McBride 4-6; Cerritos 30-Davis 24-118, 6-Chambers 10-30, 82-M.Williams 2-1, 4-Craig 1-0
Passing: Mt. SAC 17-Faulkner 22-40-0-206, 1 TD; 28-L.Iosefa 1-1-0-4, 1 TD; Cerritos 13-Morales 11-38-1-115, 1 TD; team 0-1-0-0
Receiving: Mt. SAC 4-Canada 9-78, 14-Harrell 3-50, 22-Owens 3-21, 81-Brun 2-28, 18-Arendse 1-20, 86-Torres-Keohoka 1-5, 93-Maka 1-4, 9-Darcey 1-3, 29-B.Iosefa 1-2, 3-McBride 1-(-1); Cerritos 9-Robbins 4-57, 81-Mealy 2-16, 2-Willie 2-14, 17-L.Johnson 1-14, 82-M.Williams 1-8, 44-Nelson 1-6
Interceptions-Ret Yds: Mt. SAC 21-Gorforth 1-0; Cerritos none
Fumble Rec-Ret Yds: Mt. SAC none; Cerritos 3-Webb 1-0, 20-Harris 1-0
Sacks-Yds: Mt. SAC 11-Irvin 2-16, 91-Payne 1-8; Cerritos 95-Goggins 1-10
Punters: Mt. SAC 46-Campbell 5-41.6 avg; Cerritos 42-Cutler 4-39.8 avg, 13-Morales 1-31
Kick Returns: Mt. SAC 22-Owens 1-32, 48-Palu 1-8, 3-McBride 1-7, 37-Matsuda 1-1; Cerritos 4-Russell 4-133, 15-Curry 1-21
Punt Returns: Mt. SAC 20-Gaisie 2-4; Cerritos 15-Curry 1-18
Missed FG: Mt. SAC 49-Brown 38 yds (blk), 42 yds (blk); Cerritos 14-Rodriguez 37 yds (wl)
Notes: Showdown! Cerritos entered 8-0, 4-0 in National-Central, #1 in South and #8 in nation (JGCW). Mt. SAC entered 7-1, 3-1 in National-Central, #2 in South, #6 in nation. Mealy made an amazing one-handed catch for his TD. Then on the ensuing kickoff, Matsuda mishandled the ball and Harris recovered at the 26. After 25 yards in penalties, Chambers scored to make it 14-3. Mt. SAC used a wildcat formation - maybe more like a Mountain Lion formation with 225-pound TE Arendse at QB on the 1st TD drive. Cerritos' 1st FG came after Gaisie mishandled a punt and Webb recovered for Cerritos. L.Iosefa's TD pass was on a wildcat formation; he started to run, stopped and lobbed a jump pass over the line to Maka. Mt. SAC had two chances to take the lead in the final minute, but 95-Goggins blocked a 38-yd FGA with 3:20 left and Cerritos' line deflected a 42-yard FGA with 1:10 left. In OT, Arendse played the Mountain Lion position and carried the ball 4 times to get Mt. SAC's TD. Cerritos answered but Rodriguez' kick was low into the line.