Football: Penalties and unfulfilled drives result in first loss

Latrell Stearns led the Falcons with 10 tackles
Latrell Stearns led the Falcons with 10 tackles

The plan for the Cerritos College football team against College of the Canyons was to try and use their running game in hopes of a 4-0 start. However, on Saturday night, the Falcons (3-1) were unable to complete their long drives, while penalties hurt their chances in a 28-10 loss to the Cougars (4-0). It was a match-up of #3-ranked Canyons and their stellar defense against #5-ranked Cerritos and their effective ground game. The Falcons did earn 216 yards on the ground on 49 attempts (4.4 average), but a trio of penalties, coupled with two interceptions put a huge dent in their best offensive drives of the night.

Rhamondre Stevenson accounted for 154 rushing yards The Cougars took the opening drive and scored to get out to a quick 7-0 lead. On the Falcons first drive, sophomore running back Rhamondre Stevenson (Centennial, NV HS) sliced through the defense for a 41-yard gain. But the play was hindered by a dead ball personal foul penalty against Cerritos, which slowed the drive. On the next play, sophomore quarterback Isaiah Bravo (West Covina HS) was intercepted by Raeshawn Roland at the Cougars 17-yard line and he returned it 42 yards. Canyons was whistled for a penalty after the play and the Falcon defense was able to force a punt.

Looking to catch Canyons off guard on their next drive, Cerritos attempted to go for it on fourth down, and came up three yards short and turned the ball over at midfield. Sophomore Tishawn Barnaby (Centennial, NV HS) then picked off Andrew Brito, which gave the Falcons the ball back on their own 27-yard line. A 15-play, 61-yard drive ended with a 34-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Leonard Arzt (Warren HS/Long Beach CC).

College of the Canyons came back on the next drive and scored to take a 14-3 lead, which they would carry into halftime. Coming out of the second half, the Falcons went on another long drive, which burned 8:30 off the clock and resulted in a three-yard scoring run by Stevenson. Cerritos converted three third-down plays on the drive, and were 9-of-17 for the game.

On the ensuing drive, the Falcons had a chance to force a punt, but a facemask call on third-and-one, which would have led to a punt, kept the drive alive for the Cougars. Three plays later, Wyatt Eget scored from nine yards out and Cerritos was forced once again to get their offense going. Midway through the fourth quarter, Cerritos was moving the ball and worked their way deep into Canyons territory. An 11-yard scramble by Bravo on third down kept the drive going, as did a six-yard completion to freshman wide receiver Jovohn Tucker (St. John Bosco HS) on third-and-six. After a 10-yard run by sophomore David Walker (Cheyenne, NV HS) gave the Falcons a first-and-10 at the Cougars 23-yard line, Bravo was picked off by Antonio Hunt at the nine-yard line, which ended the scoring threat.

Back-up quarterback Eget tossed a screen pass to Jarrin Pierce on third-and-nine and he broke free up the middle for a 92-yard touchdown, which ended the team's hopes of staying undefeated.

Stevenson, who had to come out of the game several times due to leg cramps, carried the ball 29 time for 154 yards, with 100 of them coming in the first half. Bravo struggled on the night, completing just 12-of-28 passes for 95 yards and two interceptions. Sophomore linebacker Latrell Stearns (Gahr HS) posted 10 tackles on the night , while both Barnaby and freshman safety Noah Guzman (Bishop Amat HS) finished with eight tackles each.

The Falcons ended up running 25 more plays than the Cougars and possessed the ball for an extra 13:14. But College of the Canyons out-gained Cerritos, 362-311 and came up with the big plays when necessary.

Cerritos will renew their rivaly with Long Beach City College next Saturday at 6:00 p.m. at Falcon Stadium. The teams haven't played each other since 2015 in a bowl game. Prior to that, they had faced each other every season from 1959-2011.

Photos by Daryl Peterson