Football: Cerritos defeats Long Beach City, 35-28 for Western State Bowl title

Falcons raise both the Western State Bowl trophy and Crosstown Cup after defeating LBCC
Falcons raise both the Western State Bowl trophy and Crosstown Cup after defeating LBCC

For the fourth season in a row, the Cerritos College football team has completed their season on a winning note by capturing the title of a bowl game. On Saturday, the Falcons (8-3) not only won the Western State Bowl for the second season in a row, they defeated crosstown rival Long Beach City College, 35-28. It was the first win over the Vikings (5-6) since 2011, as they had lost the last two meetings between schools that are separated by eight miles. The win also means the return of the Crosstown Cup to the Falcons, as trophy that's awarded to the winner of the game. The teams played each other every year from 1959-2011.

With the game tied, 21-21 in the third quarter, the Falcons went on an 11-play, 47-yard drive that culminated in a two-yard touchdown run by Davon Booth (El Monte HS), who was named the game's Most Valuable Player. On the drive, Cerritos converted a fourth down when sophomore quarterback Jordan Simpson (Gahr HS) connected with freshman wide receiver Jaceon Doss (St. John Bosco HS) across the middle for 16 yards to the LBCC 13-yard line. After a four-yard run by freshman running back Michael Hayes (St. John Bosco HS), Long Beach City was called for a personal foul, which gave Cerritos a fresh set of downs at the four-yard line. Two plays later, Booth scored from two yards out.

On the ensuing drive by the Vikings, freshman linebacker Ronal Tebu, Jr. (Covina HS) laid a hit on receiver Kyle Miller, which dislodged the ball, with sophomore defensive end Diego Barrera (Los Alamitos HS) recovering the ball at the LBCC 48-yard line with 10:15 left in the fourth quarter.

Three consecutive runs by Booth netted 15 yards before Simpson, who was named the Cerritos Player of the Game, hit Doss for 30 yards to the three-yard line. On second down, sophomore running back Penieli Lauago (La Mirada HS) found the end zone from two yards out and gave the Falcons a 35-21 lead.

Long Beach would score on their next drive to get back in the game, but Cerritos was able to run out the final 4:38 to win the game. On the last drive of the game, Long Beach City was called for pass interference on third down, while they were whistled for a facemask penalty two plays later. That second penalty allowed Cerritos to finish running out the clock and secure the bowl victory.

Early in the third quarter with the Falcons leading, 21-14, sophomore defensive back Chase Nixon (La Habra HS) made one of the best plays in the game. Vikings receiver Trennel Ridgley caught a pass on the run and was racing to the end zone for a touchdown. But Nixon was able to chase him down and tackle Ridgley at the one-yard line to prevent the touchdown. On the first play, sophomores Angel Garcia (St. Paul HS) and Zyier Thornton (Lynwood HS/Los Angeles Harbor College) stuffed LBCC Game MVP Qeanu Campbell-Caldwell for a one-yard loss, while sophomore Izaac Tauiliili (Cimarron Memorial, NV HS) stopped Jonathan Watson for no gain. On third down, Campbell-Caldwell threw an incomplete pass, which left Mario De La Torre to attempt a 20-yard field goal, which he missed.

That defensive stance helped keep the Falcons in front until LBCC was able to drive down on their next series to tie the game.

Booth finished his MVP performance with 118 rushing yards and a touchdown along with three receptions for 18 yards and another score. Simpson completed 13-of-28 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns, while he also rushed for another. Doss pulled in seven of those passes for 146 yards and one score.

Nixon led the defense with seven stops, while Milo Lopez (La Serna HS) finished with six tackles and sophomore linebacker Jonathan Fuamatu (St. Paul HS) added five tackles.

Photos by Daryl Peterson