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Vaqueros ride big second half to 45-28 win in home debut

Perry Martin averaged 8 yards a carry with 128 yards on 16 rushes. (Photo by Ken Sciallo / Sevilla Photography)
Perry Martin averaged 8 yards a carry with 128 yards on 16 rushes. (Photo by Ken Sciallo / Sevilla Photography)

SBCC erased a 21-14 deficit with three straight touchdowns on Saturday afternoon and went on to beat West L.A. 45-28 in its football home opener at La Playa Stadium.

The Wildcats (1-1) had more first downs (30-24), more total yards (560-518) and dominated the time of possession (36:40 to 23:20). But the Vaqueros won the biggest battle on the scoreboard, thanks to averaging nearly 9.0 yards per play.

Cedric Cooper scored on a 22-yard run to put the Vaqueros (1-1) ahead 7-0 on the game's first possession. West L.A. found the end zone on two of its next three drives, then the Vaqueros went 70 yards in four plays, capped by a 22-yard pass from Noah Holle to tight end Jacob Ortale. Ortale dragged a defender the last three yards into the end zone. That tied it 14-14 with 6:53 to go in the second quarter.

Holle, who alternated at QB with Joshua Lindman, completed 8-of-10 passes for 141 yards and three touchdowns. West L.A. quarterback Jorge Reyna had a monster game, completing 50-of-67 for 419 yards and four touchdowns with one interception. The Wildcats attempted 44 more passes than the Vaqueros, who completed 15-of-23 for 65.2 percent.

"Graham (Joshua Lindman) and I really feed off each other," said Holle, a 6-4 sophomore from Bakersfield. "Whoever has the momentum will play. We're competing with each other and we're supporting each other.

"We have a lot of weapons and Elijah Cunningham is a dynamic playmaker. We made a few adjustments at halftime and our defense really shut them down. They only did about four or five things on offense and their quarterback was making plays with his legs."

Reyna was 26-33 passing in the first half for 264 yards and three TDs. He finished with 504 total yards, including a team-high 85 rushing yards and a 50-yard scamper that set up a TD early in the third quarter.

The Wildcats went ahead 21-14 on a 22-yard TD reception by Daniel Bell and the Vaqueros responded with a three-play, 53-yard scoring drive that was set up by a 32-yard kick return by Sharsh. Emmanuel Nwosu, a freshman from Dos Pueblos High, ran 14 yards on first down and Lindman hit Cooper for seven yards. Nwosu recorded his first college TD, weaving through defenders and carrying linebacker Keifer Enslin into the end zone to complete a 32-yard scoring play.

That made it 21-21 at the half. The Vaqueros outscored the Wildcats 24-7 in the final 30 minutes.

"We got some stops and a turnover on a pick in the second half," said coach Craig Moropoulos. "The good things were we didn't have any turnovers and only four penalties. Our balance was tremendous, 274 yards rushing and 244 yards passing.

"And we were going fast on offense. When you go that fast, it's hard to defend. It was a good feeling to get those two second-half TDs and go up by 14."

Martin Perry led the ground attack with 128 yards on 16 carries (8.0 avg.) and Nwosu added 87 yards on just eight attempts for a healthy 10.9 average. The Vaqueros racked up 274 yards on 35 attempts, averaging 7.8 per run. That's the highest rushing total since last year's game against West LA when they amassed 326 yards in Week 4.

West LA got to the Vaquero 6 on the first drive of the second half, then was pushed back 15 yards by a personal foul. On fourth down, Cole Marmor blocked a 40-yard field goal try and Thomas Lash returned it to the SBCC 36. Six plays later, Lindman connected with Sharsh over the middle for a 34-yard score that put the Vaqueros ahead 28-21.

Late in the third period, Santa Barbara produced its longest drive of the day, going 90 yards in 10 plays in 3:07. Cooper ran 21 yards to the 19 and two plays later, Holle hooked up with Cunningham on a 14-yard slant from the left for a TD that boosted the lead to 14 points, 35-21.

Lindman was 7-13 for 103 yards and a TD and Cunningham led the receivers with four catches for 93 yards and a touchdown. Sharsh caught four passes for 80 yards and a score.

Linebacker Dallas Martin led the defense with 12 tackles, including six solo. Trevor Vill and Nicholas Eberly had 11 tackles each.

The Wildcats pulled within a TD on a 1-yard TD catch by Bell early in the fourth quarter but the Vaqueros responded with a 71-yard march in just 2:09, capped by their longest play of the day – a 40-yard pass-and-run from Holle to Cunningham up the right sideline. Ortale wiped out the last defender with a solid block at the 9-yard line.

The Vaqueros will host L.A. Southwest on Saturday at 1 p.m.