By Joe Dargan
The football team scored three unanswered touchdowns to come back and beat San Diego Mesa College 20-13 in their homecoming game on Saturday in San Diego.
As a show of confidence in the team’s defense, the Huskies won the toss, but chose to give the opening possession of the game to 3-0 Mesa College.
Within the first four plays of the game, East Los Angeles College was charged with four penalties, including multiple encroachment violations and a pass interference.
Despite the lack of execution on the first few defensive plays, the Huskies were able to force Mesa College to punt on its first drive.
Although freshman quarterback Philip Tran was able to complete his first pass to senior running back Lavell Thompson for 19 yards at the start of an 8:20 drive, ELAC was unable to score the football and was forced to punt.
Two plays into Mesa College’s ensuing drive, sophomore defensive back Aubrey Mosley-Laughlin was able to come up with an interception and get the ball back for the Huskies.
The second quarter played out like the first, where inconsistency plagued ELAC offensively, leaving them scoreless.
The Huskies’ defense held strong as they shutout Mesa College through two quarters.
One defensive stand included back to back sacks of Mesa College’s sophomore quarterback Jeremiah Henderson.
With Tran at quarterback, ELAC started the second half with two successful running plays totaling 18 yards. The offensive success was immediately negated by a personal foul penalty that cost the team 15 yards. After two completions for short gains and a sack, the Huskies were forced to punt once again.
A 36-yard punt by kicker Kevin Bravo was returned by Mesa College’s sophomore wide receiver Artie Henry for 18 yards, putting them on ELAC’s 49 yard line.
Mesa College produced a 2-minute drive, including three penalties by ELAC that resulted in a 2-yard rushing touchdown from Mesa College’s freshman running back Mi’kel Jackson. The score was 7-0 after a successful punt.
Following Mesa College’s scoring drive, head coach Bobby Godinez made a change at quarterback. Freshman quarterback Paul Herrera was inserted in the game.
“Tran is starting today and I wish him luck, but if coach Godinez calls my number I’ll be ready,” said Herrera before the start of the first quarter.
Herrera began with two successful passes for 36 yards. He turned the ball over on downs on his first possession.
Although ELAC’s defense was called for three penalties during Mesa College’s possession, sophomore defensive back Qua’D Cheatham nullified the mistakes with an interception of Henderson and a 38-yard return.
The Huskies’ defense remained consistent, producing another round of back-to-back sacks by sophomore defensive lineman Seone Vea and a combination of sophomore defensive lineman Trestan Kueneman and sophomore linebacker Daniel Belton.
The offense could not capitalize on the defensive play.
Herrera attempted a lateral pass that was deflected, resulting in a fumble that was recovered by Mesa College on ELAC’s one yard line.
Henderson rushed in for the one-yard touchdown on the next play, but Mesa College’s field goal attempt was blocked by Cheatham, resulting in a 13-0 score.
With 1:28 seconds left in the third quarter, Herrera started the 80-yard drive that lead to ELAC’s first score.
After a successful 19-yard run by Herrera to end the third quarter, the Huskies began the fourth quarter with a first and goal. Seven seconds into the quarter, Herrera threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Dontavious Hall, making the score 6-13 after a missed field goal.
ELAC’s defense was able to contain Mesa College’s offense to a 1-minute possession that ended in a punt.
Herrera led the offense on a 50-yard drive that resulted in a 22-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Antoise Fields.
After a successful field goal, the score was tied at 13-13. Mesa College failed to score on its next two possessions, where ELAC’s defense remained strong.
With 5:50 to go, Herrera connected with sophomore wide receiver Kenny Allen for a 13-yard passing touchdown to end the drive.
Freshman kicker Hector Gomez scored a field-goal and ELAC held the lead at 20-13.
The Huskies’ defense held Mesa College scoreless for the remainder of the game.
Defense provided two interceptions and 11 sacks, including two sacks on Mesa College’s last drive. “Phil (Tran) is a good quarterback, but with the confidence Paul (Herrera) showed last week, it was time for us to switch some things up,” coach Godinez said.
“I’m not selfish. As long as we win, that’s all that matters,” Tran said.
Despite being called for 19 penalties, costing ELAC 199 yards, compared to five penalties caled against Mesa College, the Huskies now have an even record at 2-2 and they will be in action at home on Saturday against Santa Ana College.