Football: Slugfest ends in 46-39 Falcon win

Falcons come away with the Beach Bowl trophy after their win
Falcons come away with the Beach Bowl trophy after their win

It was a textbook showcase of West Coast offenses, as the Cerritos College and Ventura College offense displayed in the Joe Kapp Real Estate Beach Bowl game on Saturday night. The two teams combined for 1,158 yards and 84 points, with the Falcons (7-4) coming away with a 46-39 win over the host Pirates (8-3). It was the second bowl win in as many years for head coach Dean Grosfeld.

After punting on their first offensive drive, the Falcons scored on every one of their remaining drives, aside from the end of the half and end of the game. As for Ventura, they scored on all but two of their drives, with a fourth quarter strip sack proving to be the difference in the game.

With Cerritos leading, 38-36 early in the fourth quarter, a missed Brandon Petruescu (La Mirada HS) field goal opened the door for the Pirates. Back on their own 25-yard line after a holding penalty on the previous play, Pirates quarterback Nevin Yuen was sacked by Logan Applewhite (Cathedral HS), who also stripped the ball away. Elijah Dolphin (Long Beach Poly HS) was there to recover the ball and give the Falcons possession at the Ventura 36-yard line. A poweful 26-yard run by sophomore Carl Odom (West Jordan, UT HS) moved the ball to the 10-yard line. A holding penalty on the next play negated an Odom touchdown run. However, freshman Hinckley Ropati (Downey HS) was able to bust through the defensive line and get to the outside for a 14-yard touchdown run. The Falcons converted a two-point conversion when freshman quarterback TJ McMahon (Servite HS) connected with Etieni Valele (Norwalk HS), who was alone in the end zone. Valele, a 290-pound linebacker bobbled the ball several times, but was able to pull the ball in for a 46-36 lead with 5:38 remaining.

Although Ventura was able to move the ball downfield, they had to settle on a fourth Alberto Arroyo field goal. That would the difference in the game, as Cerritos was able to score touchdowns, while the Pirates were forced to kick field goals.

Cerritos took a 24-15 lead into halftime, thanks to three touchdowns and a Petruescu field goal, with Ventura converting three field goals with one touchdown. The Falcons continued their offensive onslaught in the second half and had an answer for every Ventura score.

Offensive Most Valuable Player C.J. Parks (Mater Dei HS) had a hand in two touchdowns, as his 57-yard completion to wide receiver Johvon Tucker (St. John Bosco HS) in the first half led to a touchdown, while he pulled in a sideline pass from McMahon and raced for a 60-yard touchdown early in the third quarter. An argument could have been made for multiple players to receive the award, including Ropati, who rushed for 95 yards and three touchdowns, while also catching four passes for 88 yards. Odom led all rushers with 129 yards and scored a touchdown, while McMahon completed 17-of-25 passes for 297 yards and two touchdowns, and also added 38 rushing yards on five carries.

Sophomore defensive tackle Anthony Shipton (Villa Park HS) was named the game's Defensive Most Valuable Player, as he helped stuff the middle and posted five stops. Again, several other players would have been worthy choices, with freshmen linebackers MichaelAllen Reddy (Los Alamitos HS) and Victor Clanton (JSerra HS) each recording nine tackles to lead the team.

On the year, McMahon passed for 2,667 yards, which is the second most in a single season in school history, while his 2,732 total yards were the third most in a season. Parks, who holds the school's all-time reception list with 94, finished the season with 965 receiving yards, which is the second most in a season in school history. His 1,336 career receiving yards also ranks him second in school history.

Photos courtesy of Maria Castro