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Desert edges Vaqueros in 25-20 thriller

Manny Nwosu had his fourth straight 100-yard rushing game with 104 yards and two second-half touchdowns. (Photo by Ken Sciallo / Sevilla Photography)
Manny Nwosu had his fourth straight 100-yard rushing game with 104 yards and two second-half touchdowns. (Photo by Ken Sciallo / Sevilla Photography)

Tony Williams rushed for 186 yards and a touchdown on Saturday night and College of the Desert survived two potential game-winning passes in the end zone in the closing seconds of a 25-20 football win over visiting SBCC.

The Roadrunners (3-2) won their third straight and ended a three-game winning streak by the Vaqueros (3-2). It was Desert's first win over SBCC in seven lifetime meetings.

Desert built a 16-0 halftime lead against a Vaquero team that came in as the No. 7 scoring offense in the state with a 40.3 average.

"It was a rough first half," said SBCC coach Craig Moropoulos, whose team started drives at the Desert 13 and 18 but couldn't score any points. "Give our guys credit, we came back strong in the second half."

The Vaqueros scored two TDs in the third quarter and pulled within two points, 22-20, on a 4-yard TD run by Emmanuel Nwosu with 7:07 to play. They went for two points and Joshua Evans' pass was in Donald Lambert's hands at the 1 but Darrell Lewis knocked it loose.

Nwosu had his fourth straight game over 100 yards. The former Dos Pueblos High star ran 20 times for 104 yards and two touchdowns.

On the next drive, Desert appeared to fumble at its own 41 but the referee ruled the runner was down. SBCC got an unsportsmanlike penalty and Desert drove to the 29. Luis Castellanos booted a 46-yard field goal, stretching the lead to 25-20 with 4:14 to go.

"I thought they fumbled," Moropoulos said. "It looked like a backward lateral to me. I didn't agree with the call and I got a penalty. But even with all that, we still had a chance to win it on our last drive."

The Vaqueros took over on their 20 and used a 33-yard double-reverse pass from Lambert to Julian Blain to move to the Desert 17. On third-and-15 from the 22, Evans threw a pass off Blain's fingertips but the Roadrunners were flagged for pass interference.

That gave SBCC a first-and-goal at the 10 with 1:04 on the clock. Nwosu ran for two yards, then Evans was sacked back to the 17. Evans threw incomplete for Blain in the corner of the end zone, then the Vaqueros made a false start. On fourth down from the 22 with 23 seconds left, Evans' pass was too high for Lambert in the end zone.

Desert gained 294 yards on the ground on 61 tries. The Vaqueros ran for 148 yards and passed for 148 yards. The Roadrunners won the total-yard battle 330-296 but also committed 15 penalties for 195 yards.

Linebacker Mason Hoose led the defense with 17 tackles, the highest total by a Vaquero this season.

Desert was 3-3 on red-zone scoring chances while the Vaqueros were 2-5. SBCC had scored on 76 percent of its red-zone chances in the first four games.

Desert opened the game with an 81-yard scoring drive, capped by Demetrius Whitmore's 2-yard TD run. Benjamin Myles scored from 2 yards out to make it 13-0 with 4:29 to go in the second quarter.

Luis Castellanos' 41-yard field goal made it 16-0 with 22 seconds left in the first half.

The Vaqueros missed a pair of golden opportunities in the first quarter. After a great rush forced an out-of-bounds punt that was ruled an illegal kick, SBCC took over on the Desert 13 with 3:45 to go in the first quarter. A 6-yard run by Cody Perry moved it to the 4, then Gerald Hickson threw a pass into the turf on fourth-and-1.

Early in the second quarter, Houston Little had a good punt return and the Roadrunners received a personal foul penalty, giving the Vaqueros the ball on the Desert 18. But they turned it over on downs after a run for zero and three incomplete passes by Evans.

Evans hooked up with Lambert on a 49-yard scoring toss with 9:06 to go in the third quarter. After a shanked punt went 7 yards, SBCC took over on the Desert 32. Lambert ran 14 yards on a double-reverse pitch and Nwosu did the rest, gaining 4 yards and then leaping into the end zone on a 14-yard TD run.

Alfredo Maya kicked his second PAT to make it 16-14 with 5:01 left in the third quarter. The Roadrunners extended it to 22-14 on an 11-yard TD run by Williams with 11:13 to play. Russell Enholm blocked the PAT kick, keeping the Vaqueros within eight.

The Vaqueros have a bye on Saturday, then open American Pacific League play on Saturday, Oct. 14 when Hancock visits La Playa Stadium for a 1 p.m. kickoff.