Football: Five big-play touchdowns lead Falcons to 68-49 win

C.J. Parks races down the sideline for one of his two touchdown receptions
C.J. Parks races down the sideline for one of his two touchdown receptions

On a record-breaking offensive night, the Cerritos College and Palomar College football teams combined to score 117 points in a 68-49 conference win for the Falcons. The total points breaks the old record of 100 points scored last season in a 63-35 win over College of the Desert. The 68 points were the second most ever scored by a Cerritos team, with the record of 76 coming in a 76-18 win over Ventura College in 1959. The Falcons kept their post-season bowl chances alive with the win and need to beat El Camino College next Saturday at 1:00 p.m. in Torrance to secure that bid.

Cerritos scored five of their touchdowns on plays of 40 yards or more. The night opened with a sustained drive that went 88 yards on 11 plays culminated by a 15-yard scoring pass from freshman quarterback TJ McMahon (Servite HS) to sophomore wide receiver C.J. Parks (Mater Dei HS) from 15 yards out. The duo would strike for 46 yards on the next series, setting up a 20-yard rush by sophomore Jacobi Hardy (Long Beach Wilson HS/El Camino College) on the next play for a touchdown. The Falcons scored on their third straight possession to take a 21-7 lead early in the second quarter. The drive included a fourth down fake punt where freshman punter Brandon Petruescu (La Mirada HS) connected with freshman Omari Okeke (Bellflower HS) down the sideline for a 24-yard gain. McMahon rushed for 20 yards on the next play and then saw Hardy bust up the middle and outrun the defense for a 47-yard touchdown run. Hardy scored touchdowns on his first two carries of the game.

With his nine receptions on the night, Parks set the college's career reception record with 88 catches in his career. He broke the old record of 86, which was set by Joshua Robbins from 2008-09. Parks is also fourth on the all-time receiving yards list with 1,167 yards, with the record of 1,710 by De'Jai Whitaker from 2014-15 looking to remain intact. As for McMahon, he has now thrown for 2,107 yards this season, which is the eighth most in a season in school history. He's just 217 yards away from jumping all the way to second place ahead of Jimmy Walker's 2,323 yards in 2014. However, Walker's record of 2,997 in 2015 seems to be safe.

Special teams continued to play a role in the team's win, as sophomore Etieni Valele (Norwalk HS) blocked a Preston Dennard punt, with freshman Cameron Minor (Mayfair HS) picking up the ball at the Comets 3-yard line and scoring a touchdown. 

The Comets also were seeing success on offense, as they drove right back down to score and make it a 27-14 Cerritos lead. But before the half would end, Okeke would pick off Rodney Thompson at the Cerritos 49-yard line and returned it 25 yards to the Palomar 26-yard line. Five plays later, freshman Hinckley Ropati (Downey HS) broke the goal line from a yard out and a 34-14 advantage.

After Palomar scored on a pick-six, the Falcon offense came right back out and countered with sophomore running back Carl Odom (West Jordan, UT HS) running between the guards and up the middle for a 47-yard touchdown on a fourth-and-three play.

Coming out to start the second half, Hardy took the kickoff and raced 86 yards until he was pulled down at the Palomar 11-yard line. Odom capped off the series with a one-yard touchdown run and a 47-21 lead. Once again, the Comets countered with a touchdown drive of their own. Not to be outdone, Parks took a pass along the sideline, broke a tackle and raced to the end zone for a 46-yard touchdown. Later in the quarter, McMahon found a wide open Jovohn Tucker (St. John Bosco HS) alone in the secondary and he turned that into a 62-yard touchdown.

The two connected again on the next drive, this time from 37 yards out, which would be the final points on the night for the Falcons, who didn't score in the fourth quarter.

On the night, McMahon completed 15-of-21 passes for 320 yards and four touchdowns, with Parks (nine catches, 153 yards, 2 TDs) and Tucker (four catches, 119 yards, 2 TDs) having superb nights. Hardy (78 yards), Odom (70 yards) and Ropati (50 yards) combined for 198 of the team's 290 rushing yards.

It was another team effort on defense, with Bijon Harris (Bellflower HS) leading the way with seven tackles, while linebacker Victor Clanton (JSerra HS) adding six stops and 1 1/2 tackles for loss. The quartet of Logan Applewhite (Cathedral HS), Minor, Tre'Vion Ballard (Los Alamitos HS) and Tristen Aybar (Mayfair HS) each registered five tackles.

Photos by Daryl Peterson