SBCC had lots of reasons to celebrate on Saturday after rallying for a dramatic 15-14 comeback victory over county rival Hancock in its football season opener.
The Vaqueros overcame a 14-3 third-quarter deficit at Righetti High's Warrior Stadium with spectacular defensive play, including an epic goal-line stand and two fumble recoveries by All-State linebacker Morgan Nevin that set up the last two touchdowns.
Quarterback Jarred Evans ran for 103 yards on 22 tries and tossed a pair of short TD passes that lifted the Vaqueros to their first win over the Bulldogs since 1992.
Jacob Arnell caught five passes for 99 yards. Tyler Higby had four receptions, including an 8-yarder from Evans on a wheel route to the left front corner of the end zone that put SBCC ahead 15-14 with 2:36 to play. The Vaqueros went for a 2-point conversion but Evans' run came up short.
Nevin had a game-high 15 tackles, including five solo.
"All of us expected to win but we didn't expect it to be like this," said Nevin, a 6-1 sophomore linebacker who's one of five players from Truckee, Calif., on the Vaqueros. "Our defense really did a lot and the offense hung in there."
Hancock scored on the first play from scrimmage as Shane Henderson caught a medium-range pass from Anthony Maez along the right sideline and turned it into a 67-yard touchdown. Marcus Hoerberg kicked a 36-yard field goal early in the second quarter and the Vaqueros trailed 7-3 at the half.
The Bulldogs got another TD on the second play of the third quarter when Royce Easley picked off a pass and returned it 18 yards, boosting the lead to 14-3.
Nevin recovered a fumble by Joel Enriquez at the Bulldogs' 6-yard line with 2:17 to go in the third period. On second down, Evans connected with Orion Prescott on a 6-yard TD that cut the deficit to 14-9. The PAT kick was blocked.
Hancock responded with a 66-yard drive that led to a first-and-goal at the 2. The Vaquero defense, led by Nevin, Jackson Weed, Elisha Allen, Marquis Cobb and Dillon Sheedy, stuffed the Bulldogs on four straight runs to take over on downs.
Weed and Sheedy are also from Truckee.
"Hancock is really good," said SBCC coach Craig Moropoulos. "They're huge and they're physical. The big thing is our defense rose up tonight and consistently rose to the occasion. We never gave up, we just kept coming back. The defense kept us in it and the offense started showing up.
"This was a fantastic game. It's one that these kids will remember the rest of their lives."
Trailing 14-9 with under four minutes remaining, the Vaqueros were faced with a fourth-and-14 from the Bulldog 48-yard line. Evans scrambled for 13 yards but came up a half-yard short of the first down.
Hancock took over on its own 35 with 3:35 to go. On second down, there was an errant pitch and running back Sam Weimersirch picked it up and looped back to his right.
Weed popped the ball loose from behind and it flew into the hands of Nevin at the Hancock 24. He ran to the 16 and a personal foul on Hancock (the Bulldogs had 18 penalties for 103 yards) moved the ball half-the-distance to the 8.
After an incomplete pass, Evans hit Higby for the go-ahead score. Evans was 15-of-39 passing for 186 yards with two interceptions.
"We came out relentless and never stopped," said Weed, a sophomore linebacker who had seven tackles and a sack. "The heart of the team is on defense. Our defensive end (Sheedy) got the runner to kind of bobble the ball, then I hit him and it flew out.
"We got after it and never stopped. That's what defense is all about."