Football: Defense leads the way for Falcons in win

EJ Smith (23) races into the end zone for one of his two interception returns for touchdown
EJ Smith (23) races into the end zone for one of his two interception returns for touchdown
Needing a win to keep their postseason bowl hopes alive, the Cerritos College football team relied on their defense for two touchdowns, as they defeated host San Bernardino Valley College, 34-20 Saturday afternoon. The Falcons (4-4, 2-3) will now host Golden West College at 6:00 p.m. next Saturday. In the win over the Wolverines (1-7, 0-5), the Cerritos defense picked off four passes, with two of them by freshman linebacker EJ Smith (Warren HS). He gave the team a 17-0 lead in the first quarter when he stepped in front of a Kohl Meisman pass and raced 26 yards for a touchdown. Smith also closed out the team scoring in the fourth quarter when he brought back another interception 87 yards for a touchdown. At the time, San Bernardino was trailing, 27-12 and were driving to get within one score. The Falcons opened the scoring midway through the first quarter when freshman wide receiver Gavin Porch (Los Alamitos HS) scored from 26 yards out on a reverse, with freshman Christian Guerra (Paramount HS) booting the extra point for a 7-0 lead. On the team's next offensive drive, sophomore kicker Aiden Petruescu (La Mirada HS/Long Island University) converted a 24-yard field goal. The first Smith touchdown on the next series put Cerritos comfortably in the lead, 17-0, and after the Wolverines got on the board with a field goal, they struck back with a big play. On the third Falcon play after the field goal, freshman quarterback Andre Lampley (St. John Bosco HS) hit sophomore wide receiver Dillon Laurer (Downey HS), who raced 72 yards for a touchdown and 24-3 advantage.
In the second half, San Bernardino Valley went on a 15-play drive that resulted in a touchdown, which made the score, 24-12. The Falcons then drove into Wolverine territory on their next drive, but could not convert a fourth down play and turned the ball over on downs.
Neither team was able to move the ball on their next drive until Cerritos was able to add three points to their total when Petruescu knocked down a 28-yard field goal with 13:28 left in the fourth quarter. A turnover on downs, followed by three straight turnovers marred the third quarter, with sophomore cornerback Zedekiah Rodriguez-Brown (Los Altos HS) picking off his state-leading sixth pass of the season. The final turnover of the game came from Smith, as he returned his interception for 87 yards and a touchdown.
Lampley finished the game 9-of-16 in the air for 168 yards and a touchdown, with nobody catching more than two passes. On the ground, freshman Cheo Medina (Northview HS) rushed 17 times for 63 yards. Freshman Kevonte Henry (Leuzinger HS) led the team with six tackles and a pair of tackles for loss, while five different players posted four stops. As a team, the Falcons recorded eight tackles for loss and four quarterback sacks.
Photos by Daryl Peterson