By Carlos Alvarez
The Huskies got their payback with a 42-28 win over the Corsairs at Santa Monica College, capturing the American Championship Bowl trophy. The game was dominated by the Huskies’ high-scoring offense and stifling red zone defense. Led by freshman quarterback Aaron Cantu, the offense answered each Santa Monica scoring drive with their own. After falling behind early in the first quarter 14-7, the Huskies began their drive at their own 8-yard line.
Two plays later, after some loss yardage, Cantu connected with sophomore wide receiver Luther Walker for a 95-yardtouchdown pass tying the score at fourteen all. “Cantu just threw it up and gave me a chance to make a play,” Walker said.
Multiple missed opportunities by both special teams continued throughout the early part of the second quarter. The defense for both teams began to put pressure on Cantu, as well as Corsair freshman quarterback Alfonso Medina creating some sloppy play and multiple penalties. “The penalties killed us. They stopped all momentum for us on some drives,” offensive coordinator Nick Garret said.
Corsair sophomore defensive linemen Karl Buchanan sacked Cantu for a 10-yard loss, halting the Husky drive that ended with a missed field goal. The defense for both teams continued to create scoring opportunities for their offense. Corsair sophomore Martin Perry sacked Cantu and recovered the ball, giving Santa Monica’s offense a first down at the 17 yard line and setting them up the Corsair’s for a scoring opportunity. After ineffective runs by freshman running back Myles Johnson, the Corsairs scored on a fade route to freshman wide receiver Frank Murray.
Down 21-14, sophomore Marquel Booker took the punt and returned it to the 49 yard line. A personal foul by the Corsairs moved the ball to the 36-yard line where the Huskies began the drive. A combination of power runs by freshman running back Preston Oliver and crucial third down completions to sophomore wide receiver Carlos Arredondo, kept the Huskies’ drive alive. Faced with a crucial third down from the 16-yard line, Oliver powered his way into the end zone to tie the score at 21 heading into halftime.
As the second half got under way the Huskies’ defense shut down any offensive scheme the Corsairs threw at them. “Our defensive scheme coming out in the second half was the same as the first half. We just executed better,” said defensive coordinator Geoff Ackerman after the game.
While the defense continued to shut down the Corsairs, the offense continued to move the ball. Their first drive of the second half ended with a 4-yard run by Preston Oliver for a touchdown was a combination of powerful runs and clutch passing by Cantu. “We just mixed in some play action and a heavy dose of Oliver. We wanted to get him going,” said Garret.
The Huskies’ defense was the biggest difference in the second half, forcing the Corsairs to punt, miss field goals, and turn the ball over on downs. The defense completely shut down the Corsairs’ running game,forcing quarterback Medina in to some tough situations, as the Huskies offense continued to capitalize on every sco r ing opportunity. On their second drive of the second half, ELAC began at their own 13-yard line after sophomore Christopher Floyd blocked and recovered the punt.
After Oliver carried the ball to the 2-yard line, freshman Carlos Portillo ran in the rest of the way to put ELAC in front 35-21. Holding a commanding lead and with their defense holding strong, the Huskies continued to pour it on. As the Corsairs began their drive at their own 30-yard line, the first play was a resemblance of the second half. Corsairs’ quarterback Medina was hit as he threw a pass. Freshman defensive linemen Rigo Verdin recovered and ran the ball in for a touchdown for a 42-21 lead.
As the fourth quarter got under way, Santa Monica started a nohuddle offense moving the ball down the field at will. Medina’s pass to freshman wide receiver Ralph Gordon made the score 42- 28, but that was the closest they would get. As the outcome of the game became obvious, frustration by the Corsairs was being shown through some questionable hits and continued dirty tackling.
“There is tension there. We have had some tough games with them these past three years. They beat us on our field this season. Its just emotions,” said head coach Lynn Cain after the game. Those emotions got the best of some of the players after the game when a fight broke out between the two teams. The mayhem continued on the field with players throwing helmets and punches being thrown at one another, the Santa Monica Police Department came to restore some order.