Football: Fourth quarter collapse results in 25-14 loss

Jordan Thomas (56) had 3 1/2 sacks in the Falcons 25-14 loss to LA Valley
Jordan Thomas (56) had 3 1/2 sacks in the Falcons 25-14 loss to LA Valley

Through the first three quarters of their season opener, the Cerritos College football team was holding on to a 14-7 lead over visiting Los Angeles Valley College. But the Falcons were unable to move the ball in the second half, while at the same time the Monarchs went on a 99-yard drive for their first lead of the game in the fourth quarter and followed that with a fumble recovery for a touchdown. The end result was a 25-14 setback by Cerritos, which marks the second year on a row they opened the year with a loss to LA Valley. It doesn't get any easier, as the Falcons will take on defending state champion Fullerton College at 1:00 p.m. next Saturday at Yorba Linda High School.

After taking a 14-7 lead into halftime, the Falcons had difficulty moving the ball on offense and collected just 15 total yards the remainder of the game. By contrast, the Monarchs turned their first half struggles around and amassed 130 yards after their first drive in the third quarter. But two of the biggest plays came as a result of Cerritos fumbles, which resulted in Monarch touchdowns.

Leading 14-7, the Falcons had the ball on the LA Valley 20-yard line early in the fourth quarter. Freshman quarterback Isaiah Bravo (West Covina HS) looked to hand the ball off, but had it taken out of his hands by Tayler Manuel, and he raced 74 yards untouched for a touchdown. The Monarchs had the extra point blocked, so the Falcons were clinging to a 14-13 lead.

Later in the disastrous fourth quarter, LA Valley took possession of the ball at their own 1-yard line with 5:38 left on the clock. They proceeded to go on an 11-play, 99-yard drive, which was aided by a pass interference call against the Falcons. But the big play was a 39-yard completion over the middle by Kalawaia Judd to Jeremiah Lorick on third-and-10, which put the ball at the Cerritos 18-yard line. The drive was capped off on a 4-yard Shonte Smith run with 1:25 left in the fourth quarter.

The Falcons had one last chance to win the game, but on fourth-and-nine at their own 29-yard line, Bravo (11-for-22, 121 yards) was stripped of the ball by Manuel, with Kenneth Harrell scooping it up and scoring an insurance touchdown with :39 seconds left.

The loss overshadowed a great performance by freshman defensive end Jordan Thomas (Norwalk HS) who posted 3 1/2 sacks for 29 yards, six total tackles and a quarterback hurry. As a team, the Falcons recorded nine sacks and six quarterback hurries, but could not slow down the Monarchs in that long drive. Freshman linebackers Latrell Stearns (Gahr HS), Tishawn Barnaby (Centennial, NV HS) and Bryne Smith (Damien HS) each led the team with seven tackles, while Thomas and freshman defensive end Derek Thomas (Huntington Beach HS) both added six.

Sophomore wide receiver Jacob Gasser (Los Alamitos HS) opened the scoring in the first quarter with a 25-yard touchdown reception from Bravo and led the team with six catches for 82 yards on the night. Running backs Rhamondre Stevenson (Centennial, NV HS) and Vincent Brown (Artesia HS) combined for 53 yards on the ground, while sophomore Roderick Ashford, Jr. (St. Anthony HS/Long Beach City College) scored on a six-yard run in the second quarter.

Photos by Daryl Peterson