SBCC and West L.A. have staged some wild shootouts in recent years and Saturday's final football game of the regular season was no exception.
The Wildcats jumped out to a 31-21 halftime lead before the Vaqueros (7-3, 4-3 APC) stormed back to outscore them 28-7 and pull out a 49-38 triumph in Culver City.
"They have a good offense and it's tough to slow them down," said SBCC coach Craig Moropoulos. "Our defense rose up at the end and our offense played very well."
The Vaqueros are still hoping to get a bowl bid after completing their best season (7-3) in 17 years.
"I told the guys after they game that they've changed the landscape for our program," Moropoulos added. "We've got a chance to go to a bowl. We'll see what happens tonight (in other games for potential bowl teams)."
Mike Petersen, a sophomore running back from Denmark, had his best game as a Vaquero. He refused to go down on the first tackle or two and finished with 146 yards on 23 carries. He also had a 75-yard TD reception erased by a penalty.
"I guess I wanted it more than the other guys," said Petersen who appeared to be tackled at the West L.A. 5 early in the fourth quarter but carried three defenders into the end zone to complete a 21-yard TD run and give the Vaqueros a 42-38 lead. "This was my last game with my boys and I wanted to finish strong."
The drive to Petersen's TD was set up by a 46-yard kickoff return by Ren Scypion and a personal foul on the Wildcats that let the Vaqueros start at the West L.A. 36-yard line.
The Vaqueros racked up a season-high 254 rushing yards on 45 attempts. They won the first-down battle, 29-24, and the total yards were nearly identical with 467 for West L.A. and 465 for the Vaqueros.
The 49 points were a season high for SBCC and the most they've scored in five years.
Brandon Nicastro blocked a punt for the second straight week on a fourth-and-12 play from the Wildcats' 20-yard line. Zack Arnell recovered at the 12 and Martin connected with Poling for his second TD of the day, boosting the lead to 49-38 with 8:45 remaining.
"Our defense struggled a little in the first half but we finally came together and did what we needed to do to win," said Nicastro, a freshman linebacker from Cabrillo High. "I just came through the A-gap and was untouched (on the punt block)."
Santa Barbara's two quarterbacks combined to complete 19-of-26 passes for 211 yards and four touchdowns. Josh Martin, who came on in the second quarter, was a perfect 11-11 in the second half for 126 yards and two scores.
Poling, who caught four passes for 63 yards, gave the Vaqueros their first lead at 14-10 when he broke free over the middle for the 16-yard score with 12:36 to go in the second quarter.