Football: 27-point third quarter helps Falcons pull away from Desert

Jacob Gasser pulls in a pass in the Falcons win over College of the Desert
Jacob Gasser pulls in a pass in the Falcons win over College of the Desert

Posting their largest offensive output since the 2012 season, the Cerritos College football team recorded a 65-35 win over host College of the Desert on Saturday night. The win give the Falcons a 3-0 start, their best since 2010 when they advanced to the Southern California Championship game. The team will host College of the Canyons (3-0) in a battle of undefeated teams at 6:00 p.m. next Saturday. Cerritos has won three of the last four meetings, but the Cougars recorded a 45-9 win last season.

The game against the Roadrunners (1-2) didn't start well, as the leading passer in Southern California, Noah Shoeman, connected with Kerrion Ringo for an 80-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. Shoeman entered the game averaging 406 yards through the air in the first two games. But the quick-strike Falcon offense drove right back down the field to tie the game. On fourth-and-two, sophomore quarterback Isaiah Bravo (West Covina HS) rushed up the middle for 23 yards and on the next play dropped a pass into the hands of freshman wide receiver C.J. Parks (Mater Dei HS) from 29 yards out.

College of the Desert took a 10-7 lead, which would be their last of the night. After a 16-yard punt return by Parks, Bravo threw his second touchdown pass of the quarter, as he found sophomore Jacob Gasser (Los Alamitos HS), who broke the initial tackle and scampered 45 yards for a touchdown. On the next possession in the second quarter, sophomore kicker Leonard Arzt (Warren HS/Long Beach CC) converted a 28-yard field goal for a 17-10 Falcon advantage.

After Desert tied the game at 17-17 after a 44-yard TD reception by Ringo, Cerritos stormed right back to regain the lead. Freshman Jovohn Tucker (St. John Bosco HS) returned the ensuing kickoff 36 yards, and then caught a 15-yard pass, which put the ball at the Roadrunners 25-yard line. Bravo and Parks found the end zone together once again, this time from 25 yards out. With time running out in the first half, the Falcons called timeout right before a Desert punt. With play back in action, a low snap to the punter allowed sophomore Theoren Landeros (St. Paul HS) to punch the ball free, scoop it up and race 14 yards for a touchdown and a 31-17 lead at intermission.

Cerritos came out in the second half the way they ended the first half. After a pass interference penalty was called on the Roadrunners on the first play of the third quarter, sophomore running back Rhamondre Stevenson (Centennial, NV HS) ripped off a 57-yard touchdown where he broke three tackles. The defense held Desert on their next drive and the Falcons embarked on an 11-play, 82-yard drive that culminated in a 19-yard touchdown run by Bravo. On the drive, it appeared as though the Falcons would turn the ball over on a fumbled snap during a fake punt attempt. But Desert was called for a penalty and Bravo lined up and connected on a 19-yard pass with Gasser for a first down deep in Roadrunner territory.

It was a commanding 51-17 advantage later in the third quarter when Bravo (20-for-27, 269 yards, 4 TD) and Tucker connected on a 19-yard scoring strike. On the drive, freshman running back Shane Olden, Jr. (Downey HS) accounted for 39 yards on four carries. Olden, Jr. also added a late touchdown run, while the Roadrunners scored a pair of late touchdowns of their own to finish the game as a 30-point Falcon win.

Once again, the defense did their job, as they limited Shoeman to just 206 yards through the air, which included his 80-yard and 44-yard TD scores. They forced four Roadrunner fumbles, while recovering three, with the secondary picking off another pass. Bravo passed for 269 yards and four touchdowns, while Stevenson checked in with 143 yards on 10 carries. The secondary broke up six passes to go along with their interception, while they chased Shoeman out of the pocket to the tune of four quarterback hurries and three sacks.

Sophomore defensive end Jason Nettles (Long Beach Poly HS) led the defense with eight stops, 1 1/2 tackles for loss, a forced fumble and fumble recovery, with freshman defensive back Joshua Martinez (Norwalk HS) recording a season-high seven tackles. Sophomore defensive end Peni Kalavi (Kealakehe, HI HS) posted his lone tackle of the game when he ripped the ball out of the hands of Shoeman, which led to a touchdown from the two-yard line. Freshman kicker Paul Rodriguez (Troy HS) remained perfect on the season, as he converted all eight of his extra points and is now 20-for-20 on the season.

Photos courtesy of Michael Leone