Football: Rhamondre Stevenson rushes for 270 yards and 3 TDs

Rhamondre Stevenson breaks away for his 68-yard TD run against SD Mesa. He finished with 270 yards on the night.
Rhamondre Stevenson breaks away for his 68-yard TD run against SD Mesa. He finished with 270 yards on the night.

The last time the Cerritos College and San Diego Mesa College football teams faced each other, sophomore running back Rhamondre Stevenson (Centennial, NV HS) hadn't even been born. The Falcons and Olympians played each other from 1969 through 1997, with just a one year break, with the last encounter being a 27-0 Cerritos win 21 years ago. On Saturday night at Falcon Stadium, Stevenson rushed for 270 yards and three touchdowns to lead Cerritos to a 50-21 win, which was their ninth win in a row over San Diego Mesa. The victory also snapped a three-game losing streak for the Falcons. The Oympians led, 21-20 at halftime, but were outscored, 30-0 in the second half. Next up for the Falcons (4-3, 1-1) will be a 6:00 p.m. conference game against Mt. San Antonio College (4-3, 0-2), with the game to be played at Covina District Field. It will be the first meeting between Cerritos and the Mounties since 2013, who have won five in a row over the Falcons.

San Diego Mesa (3-4, 0-2) took their lead on the last play of the first half when they blocked a 25-yard field goal attempt by sophomore Leonard Arzt (Warren HS/Long Beach CC), with Aevon Irving scooping up the ball and racing 69 yards for a touchdown. The Falcons had held a 20-7 lead at one point in the first half, before the Olympians scored the final 14 points of the quarter.

On the kickoff to start the second half, Arzt sent the ball rolling along the sideline, with San Diego Mesa falling on the live ball at their own 1-yard line. On third-and-15 at their own 13 yard line, Jake Dunninway was picked off at the 20-yard line by sophomore linebacker Latrell Stearns (Gahr HS) and he raced into the end zone untouched and the lead was returned to the Falcons. After the defense forced a punt, Stevenson took the second play from scrimmage and raced up the middle for a 68-yard touchdown, as he out-ran the Olympian defense. The Falcons converted their second straight two-point conversion, as sophomore quarterback Isaiah Bravo (West Covina HS) connected with sophomore running back Jonathan Vaaulu (Warren HS) on a pass.

Dior Denson returns his interception against SD Mesa The teams traded offensive series until sophomore defensive back Dior Denson (Gahr HS, pictured, left) stepped in front of a Denninson pass at the Cerritos 45-yard line and returned it 16 yards. Faced with a fourth-and-two at the San Diego Mesa 34-yard line, Stevenson pushed forward for a first down and then took the next handoff 30 yards for his third touchdown of the game. That gave the Falcons a 43-21 advantage, with sophomore running back David Walker (Cheyenne, NV HS) accounting for the final touchdown on a 1-yard run with 8:27 left in the game.

Stevenson, who didn't play a single down in the fourth quarter, finished the night with 270 rushing yards in 21 carries and now has amassed 1,337 yards through the first seven games. He now owns the school record for most yards in a game (339 vs. Long Beach City) and his 270 yards against San Diego Mesa also puts him third on the single-game list. His season total is one yard from tying Elijhaa Penny (New York Giants) for the second most in a season, and trails only Darrell Thomspon, who ran for 1,527 yards in 1991. Stevenson has rushed for more yards than 52 other schools in the state through the first seven games.

Bravo completed 10-of-13 passes for 174 yards, which included a 52-yard scoring strike to sophomore wide receiver Jacob Gasser (Los Alamitos HS) late in the first quarter. Pulling in four of Bravo's passes in the game, Gasser escaped from three Olympian defenders on his way to the touchdown.

Not to be lost in the performance by Stevenson was the play of the defense, which limited the Olympians to 22 rushing yards on 22 carries. Sophomore defensive end Jason Nettles (Long Beach Poly HS) recorded eight tackles, three tackles for loss, two quarterback sacks, one forced fumble, which he returned for a 15-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Freshman defensive back Noah Guzman (Bishop Amat HS) led the team with 10 tackles, with Stearns checking in with eight stops.

Photos by Daryl Peterson