Football: Falcons use big-play offense to defeat Palomar, 35-20

Falcons post 35-20 win over Palomar
Falcons post 35-20 win over Palomar

By the time the Cerritos College football team had touched the ball eight times on Saturday, they had turned it over three times, which made for what many thought could be a long day. But after a first half where they amassed just 136 yards and were locked in a 7-7 tie with host Palomar College, the Falcons had their most memorable third quarter in the history of the program. Cerritos scored on consecutive plays of 90, 92 and 74 yards to turn a 10-7 deficit into a 28-10 lead on the way to a 35-20 win.

The win improves the Falcons record to 7-1 overall and 3-0 in National Division Central League play. The team will host Riverside City College (8-0, 3-0) at 6:00 p.m. next Saturday in a battle for first place.

With the Comets leading, 10-7 in the third quarter, the defense forced a punt and took over possession at their own 10-yard line. On the first place from scrimmage, sophomore quarterback Jordan Simpson (Gahr HS) tossed a short pass to freshman wide receiver Jaceon Doss (St. John Bosco HS), who broke one tackle along the sideline and raced 90 yards for a touchdown and a 14-10 lead. Palomar looked to respond by returning the ensuing kickoff to midfield, but the Cerritos defense held strong and forced a punt.

Once again starting deep in their own territory, Simpson struck again. This time, he launched a deep pass to freshman wide receiver Tyron Bates (Paramount HS), who pulled the ball in and outran the defense for a 92-yard touchdown. The 92 yards was the second longest passing play in school history, with the school record being a 95-yard pass from Quentin Davis to Stacy Chukwumezie in 2017.

In a near repeat, Cerritos shut down the Comets on three plays and forced another punt. And on the first play from scrimmage - and third play in a row - the Falcons scored a back-breaking touchdown, as sophomore Davon Booth (El Monte HS) bulled over Palomar defender Marquis Bell at the line of scrimmage and ran 74 yards for a touchdown. To put things in perspective, Cerritos ran three consecutive plays for 256 yards and three touchdowns (90, 92, 74).

Not ready to concede the game, Palomar went on to score the game's next 10 points to draw to within 28-20 with 5:56 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Taking over possession at their own 25-yard line, the Falcons looked like they would have to punt the ball away. But, on 3rd-and-8, Palomar was called for defensive holding and the Falcons had a new set of downs. Looking at another 3rd-and-8 on the same drive, Simpson had an open receiver open underneath, but decided to go to the end zone and Doss. With the ball in the air, it seemed to go through the hands of the Comets defensive back with Doss pinning the ball against his hip before it hit the ground as he reached the end zone. The extra point put Cerritos up, 35-20.

The Falcons clinched the game on the first play from scrimmage when freshman cornerback Jhamell Blenman II (St. Bernard HS) picked off Kiah Reid to give Cerritos the ball. Looking to run out the clock, Booth broke two tackles and raced toward the end zone, where he was pulled down at the two-yard line after a 60-yard run. The Falcons took a knee on the final three plays to run out the clock.

Although he started the game slowly, Simpson completed 16-of-29 passes for 358 yards and four touchdowns. His passing yard total is the eighth best in school history, while his favorite target, Doss, finished with 191 yards and three touchdowns on just seven receptions. His 191 yards is the sixth best in a game in school history. Booth averaged 10.9 yards per carry after finishing with 185 yards on 17 carries.

There were several outstanding defensive performances on the day for the Falcons, as sophomore Milo Lopez (La Serna HS) posted eight tackles and broke up a pass, while freshman Jayden Dunlap (Lawndale HS/Los Angeles Harbor College) broke up three passes, including a touchdown-saving play and added five stops in the win. Sophomore defensive end Elijah Dolphin (Long Beach Poly HS) not only posted six tackles, a tackle for loss and fumble recovery, he kept an offensive drive alive by taking a short snap on a fake punt and rushing for six yards and a first down.