Football: Cerritos retains Milk Can Trophy after 22-20 win

Daleoun Arthur (98) and the Falcons lift the Milk Can Trophy after their 22-20 win over El Camino
Daleoun Arthur (98) and the Falcons lift the Milk Can Trophy after their 22-20 win over El Camino

In the 60th anniversary of the first time the Cerritos College and El Camino College football teams played for the Milk Can Trophy, the Falcons scored nine of their points on defense in a 22-20 win on Saturday night. The Falcons (6-1, 2-0) picked up the National Division Central League win when the Warriors (3-4, 0-2) missed a 35-yard field goal on the last play of the game. After regaining possession of the ball, El Camino drove to the Falcons 18-yard line, where Mark Waronek II saw his field goal attempt hit the left upright.

Cerritos relied on their defense and special teams to help pull out the win, with the opening score coming in the first quarter when freshman defensive end Zyier Thornton (Lynwood HS/Los Angeles Harbor College) sacked and stripped the ball from El Camino quarterback Jeliun Carter in the end zone, with sophomore defensive tackle Izaac Tauiliili (Cimarron Memorial, NV HS) able to recover the ball for a touchdown.

Playing on a slick field due to a steady rain in the first half, the Falcons attempted the move the ball on the ground, but found the end zone through the air. Taking over at their own 10-yard line early in the second quarter, sophomore quarterback Jordan Simpson (Gahr HS) hit a streaking Tyron Bates (Paramount HS) down the sideline for a 47-yard reception to the El Camino 43-yard line. Sophomore running back Davon Booth (El Monte HS) followed that by breaking off a 25-yard run and three plays later, Simpson connected with freshman wide receiver Michael Bruner (Long Beach Wilson HS) in the back of the end zone from 14 yards out.

Another defense stance, which resulted in sophomore linebacker Jonathan Fuamatu (St. Paul HS) recovering a fumble on a bad snap, put Cerritos on their own 45 yards line. It took Simpson and freshman wide receiver Jaceon Doss (St. John Bosco HS) one play to connect from 55 yards out for a touchdown and a 20-0 Cerritos lead.

The Falcons gave back a touchdown when the snap to sophomore punter Abraham Delgadillo (Gahr HS) went over his head and was recovered by El Camino's Quinton Brown, who raced 22 yards for a touchdown. The Warriors added a touchdown with nine seconds left in the first half for a 20-13 Cerritos lead heading into halftime.

The offense that worked in the first half for Cerritos came to a stop, which left the defense in charge of holding the lead. They withstood a turnover early in the third quarter, but El Camino was able to tie the game when they went on a 12-play, 98-yard scoring drive that covered over six minutes in the third quarter.

Neither team was able to move the ball effectively and when El Camino was forced to punt from their own eight-yard line after three great defensive plays, the eventual outcome was decided when freshman Nehemiah Tualaulelei-Malele (St. Paul HS) blocked the Adam Saul punt. The ball rolled out of the back of the end zone for a Falcon safety and a 22-20 lead with 10:59 left in the fourth quarter.

Cerritos was able to drive to the El Camino 21-yard line, but when the Falcons attempted to convert a fourth down, Simpson was tackled for a one-yard loss and had to turn the ball over on downs. On their next possession, the Warriors were able to effectively move the ball and converted a 1st-and-25, until the Falcon defense clamped down and took over the game.

A tackle for loss by sophomore Giovanni De Leon (Los Alamitos HS) was followed by Fuamatu and Daleoun Arthur (Cabrillo HS) sharing on a sack making it 3rd-and-29. The next play saw the snap go over the head of El Camino quarterback Corey Graham, and by the time the ball was recovered, the Warriors were looking at an amazing 4th-and-68 with :50 seconds left and three timeouts. After their punt, the Falcons ran three plays, but were still forced to punt the ball away and left the Warriors :18 seconds to get into field goal possession.

A roughing the passer penalty got the Warrior drive started and two plays later, Waronek stepped up and hit the upright on his last-second field goal attempt.

Booth finished with 104 yards on the ground on 25 carries, with Simpson completing 8-of-23 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore strong safety Angel Garcia (St. Paul HS) finished with a team-high 11 tackles and recovered a fumble, while Fuamatu posted nine stops, 2 1/2 tackles for loss, a fumble recovery, quarterback hurry and had a half sack. Arthur turned in three quarterback hurries to go along with his six stops, two tackles for loss a 1 1/2 sacks.

Cerritos travels to Palomar College next Saturday for a 1:00 p.m. game that will be played at Escondido High School.

Photos by Daryl Peterson