Football: Big plays on offense & defensive stops secure win

Arna Bontemps (8) and Zedekiah Rodriguez-Brown (21) converge on a tackle against Fullerton
Arna Bontemps (8) and Zedekiah Rodriguez-Brown (21) converge on a tackle against Fullerton

Unable to pull away from host Fullerton College on Saturday night, the Cerritos College football team looked to their defense to secure their 32-24 win. The victory improves the Falcons to 2-0 on the season, and will host Allan Hancock College at 6:00 p.m. next Saturday in their home opener.

Leading 25-17 in the third quarter after sophomore quarterback Jordan Simpson (Gahr HS) connected with sophomore wide receiver Noah Sanchez (Villa Park HS) just inside the pylon from 24 yards with 4:15 remaining in the third quarter, the Falcons saw the Hornets (1-1) respond :39 seconds later with a long kick return and two-play drive and held a slim 25-24 lead.

Early in the fourth quarter, Cerritos was able to convert a third-and-11 when Simpson hit sophomore running back Travys Davis (Artesia HS/Aurora, IL University) out of the backfield for 27 yards. The drive stalled at the Fullerton 34-yard line and the Falcons decided to go for it on fourth down. A short-hop pass to freshman Jaceon Doss (St. John Bosco HS) turned the ball over on downs with 12:18 remaining.

Over the course of the next three defensive series, Cerritos was able to hold off Fullerton. After forcing a punt, the Falcons once again moved the ball into Hornet territory, but stalled at the 35-yard line. For the second time in a row, they went for it on fourth down, but could not convert and the Hornets had another chance to take the lead.

A pair of dropped passes from Jordan Smith was followed by a pass breakup from Jhamell Blenman II (St. Bernard HS) on fourth down, which gave Cerritos the ball at their own 40 yard line. Sophomore Davon Booth (El Monte HS) only needed one play to bounce off left tackle to the outside and race 60 yards for an insurance touchdown with 2:15 remaining in the fourth quarter and a 32-24 lead.

Fullerton, who still had all three timeouts remaining, had one more chance to score and convert a two-point play to tie the game. But freshman linebacker Aiden Chapman (Bishop Alemany HS) would have nothing to do with that, as he sacked quarterback Josh Calvin on second down and then picked him off at midfield on a fourth down play to secure the win.

Simpson finished the game 19-of-34 for 326 yards and three touchdowns, while Booth finished the night with 136 yards on 16 carries and a score. Doss, who caught a pair of touchdown passes, pulled in five passes for 105 yards, while Sanchez finished with four receptions for 68 yards and a touchdown. The 326 passing yards were the most by a Falcon since TJ McMahon (Rice University) threw for 352 yards against Fullerton in 2019.

Sophomore linebacker Jonathan Fuamatu (St. Paul HS) and sophomore cornerback Jayden Dunlap (Lawndale HS/Los Angeles Harbor College) each recorded six stops, while four different players had four tackles. Chapman finished the night with three tackles, two quarterback sacks, two tackles for loss, an interception and a quarterback hurry.

Photos courtesy of Jim McCormack