Football: Cerritos holds off Pasadena City for season-opening win

Falcons meet after their 33-31 win over Pasadena City
Falcons meet after their 33-31 win over Pasadena City

Over the course of a 60-minute football game, there are always one or two plays that seem to stand out. For the Cerritos College football team, it was a pair of fourth quarter plays that loomed larger when the game was on the line. The Falcons (1-0) pulled out a 33-31 win over the Lancers (0-1) and Robinson Stadium on Saturday.

Forced to punt from their own 44-yard line early in the fourth quarter, sophomore punter Abraham Delgadillo (Gahr HS) got off a quick kick that went over the head of the Lancers Juaquin Elliott, who was looking to make a fair catch. The ball sailed over his head, which affected his momentum. As a result, Elliott fumbled the ball, with freshman Nehemiah Tualaulelei-Malele (St. Paul HS) recovering the fumble at the Pasadena City nine-yard line with 12:03 left in the fourth quarter.

Holding a 27-24 lead, a second down reverse sweep by freshman Tyron Bates (Paramount HS) resulted in a nine-yard touchdown run. Although the extra point was missed, Cerritos was on top, 33-24 with 8:50 remaining on the clock. The Lancers were able to respond with an 81-yard drive to get to within 33-31.

Taking over possession with 4:20 left in the fourth quarter, Cerritos effectively moved the ball to keep the clock running, with a key Pasadena City penalty all but securing the win. Looking at a third-and-five from their own 46-yard line, freshman running back Michael Hayes (St. John Bosco HS) was tackled for a four-yard loss. However, on the play, the Lancers were flagged for personal foul, which gave the Falcons a new set of downs. They converted a short third down play to keep the drive going and then ran out the clock.

Cerritos opened a 21-7 lead, thanks in part to a 35-yard touchdown run from Booth, while sophomore quarterback Jordan Simpson (Gahr HS) found a streaking Bates down the sideline and he outran the defense for a 72-yard touchdown play. Midway through the third quarter, the Lancers were able to tie the game until Simpson (11-for-19, 178 yards) connected with sophomore tight end Jacob Leija (La Serna HS) on a 13-yard scoring strike.

Booth finished the night with 116 yards on 19 carries, while Bates pulled in four Simpson passes for 109 yards. 

The secondary was able to wrap up Lancer receivers, with the trio of Milo Lopez (La Serna HS), Chandler Nixon (La Habra HS) and Jhamell Blenman II (St. Bernard HS) combining for 22 tackles and a pair of pass breakups. Sophomore Zyier Thornton (Inglewood HS/Los Angeles Harbor College) was also effective, as he posted six stops to go along with two tackles for loss and a quarterback sack.

The Falcons will take on Fullerton College next Saturday at 6:00 p.m. at Fullerton Union High School.