by Cerwin D. Haynes
A fast-paced, scoreless game turned tide late with the Cerritos Falcons besting the East Los Angeles Huskies 21-7.
For three quarters, Cerritos and ELAC were locked into a kind of defensive struggle. Each school punted the ball six times, lost two fumbles, and were unable to put together a sustained offensive attack. Then the fourth quarter came, and the Huskies would get their first scoring chance via a field goal attempt. But Kicker Juan Rangel's 45-yarder sailed wide right, and the Falcons would respond. Quarterback TJ McMahon hit receiver Jovohn Tucker for a long 48-yard pass that set Cerritos up at the ELAC 25 yard-line - the deepest the Falcons were able to penetrate into Huskies territory to that point. Two plays later, McMahon would hook up with Tucker again, a four-yard touchdown pass to break the scoreless tie.
The Huskies regained their footing and finally got their offense untracked. On third and five from the ELAC 30, Quarterback Rudy Garcia (subbing for starter Wesley Blazek) found an open Justin Watkins midfield on a pass, then Watkins dipped a couple of would-be tacklers and took off down the sideline towards the end zone. A 70-yard touchdown pass and point-after knotted the score at seven-all.
On the next series, with Cerritos gaining the ball at their own nine-yard line, the fatigue of the hard-hitting Huskies defense began to show. McMahon connected on a 35-yard pass to CJ Parks to move the Falcons near midfield. On second-and-10 from their own 44, running back Hinckley Ropati breaks open a 38-yard run to advance Cerritos to the ELAC 19 yard-line. Ropati would gain 14 more yards on the next play, and two more runs after that saw the Falcons cash in (one-yard run by Carl Odom) to retake the lead.
It looked like ELAC would respond again: helped by two 15-yard penalties (a late hit and a face mask), the Huskies mushed down to the Falcons 32. But the offense stalled again, and they were faced with fourth and nine from the Cerritos 31 with under 3:30 left to play. Garcia dropped back then rolled to pass, but he was intercepted by the Falcons' Noah Peterson who would return the pick 55 yards to the Huskies 20. On the next play, McMahon found Tucker again in the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown pass to essentially seal the win for the visitors from Norwalk.
- Rudy Garcia came in during ELAC's first offensive series in the 2nd quarter and would quarterback the rest of the way. He finished 13 for 26, 153 yards with two interceptions (Blazek was 4-6, 30 yards and 1 INT).
- Wide receiver Justin Watkins finished with three catches for 78 yards, including his 70-yard touchdown catch (and run).
- Linebacker Malaetasi Sofa and defensive lineman Daniel Robledo helped lead the defense with two solo tackles, three assisted tackles and one solo sack each apiece (Robledo also earned an assisted sack).
- 2019 College Football America's JUCO Preseason Starter Ben Key had two solo tackles, three assisted tackles and an assisted sack.
ELAC is on the road next Saturday, September 14th at Orange Coast. Kickoff set for 6pm.