By Carlos Alvarez
The football team’s defense led the way against Chaffey College with a dominating 40-27 victory last Saturday at Weingart Stadium. Quarterback Aaron Cantu returned to the starting lineup after entering as a backup last week.
“Cantu embraced the situation last week. He was injured and we can’t risk the future of a PAC-12 player. Diaz had a great game against Victor Valley. Cantu stepped in after Diaz went down and we go from there,” Offensive Coordinator Nick Garret said, on the decision to not start Cantu on the previous game.
The risk occurred. Cantu was called in last week in the second quarter. Diaz played injured but it got worse and was taken out. Cantu responded with 475 yards and six touchdowns in three quarters.
With Cantu’s return to an offense that averages 35 points a game, the Huskies seemed ready to jump all over the Panthers who had lost their past three games. During those three games the Panthers have allowed an average of 40 points a game, but they held ELAC’s high scoring offense scoreless in the first quarter.
“We had some missed opportunities in the first quarter, some drop balls here and there. We just didn’t execute,” Garret said.
While the offense failed to capitalize and score in the first quarter with great field position, ELAC’s defense held Chaffey to a total of 25 yards in the quarter.
Led by sophomore linebacker Donyae Olton constant pressure on Panther QB Harrison Stewart, Huskies held the Panthers to 156 total yards of offense for the game. The defense play was not reminiscent of the team who allows 444 total yards a game for the season.
“We did everything we plan to do all week in practice. Our game plan was well executed. These guys played great tonight,” Linebacker Coach/Defensive Assistant Coach Richard Zepeda said.
With 5:23 remaining in the quarter the offense began their drive at their own five yard line. After gaining a first down and moving the ball to the 29 yard line with powerful running and receiving from RB Preston Oliver, the offense frustration showed on the following play.
On 1st and 10 from their own 29 yard line freshman wide receiver Robert McCovery dropped a sure touchdown pass from Cantu, who began yelling, “catch the ball, catch the ball,” after the Huskies punted the ball away to Chaffey and headed to the sideline.
With 2:20 left in the quarter, Zepeda lost his composure and was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.
“There were some calls that didn’t go our way. I felt they were unfair. I will always stick up for my team,” Zepeda said, when asked about his outburst
The fire and energy showed by Zepeda seemed to ignite the offense when they finally got on the board scoring to begin the second quarter.
The Huskies seemed to wake up in the second quarter scoring at will. After penalties backed them up to their own 47 yard line. After an incomplete pass Cantu connected with McCovery for a 44 yard touchdown pass giving the Huskies their first lead 7-0, after the point after kick with 12:35 remaining in the first half.
The Huskies scored 33 unanswered points in the second quarter, an ELAC football record, taking a 33-0 lead heading into the second half.
ELACS offense was led by Cantu and Oliver. Cantu completed 22 out 42 passing attempts for 257 yards with four touchdowns in the first half. Oliver rushed for 66 yards on 14 rushing attempts while adding 10 receptions for 87 yards with a touchdown in the first half.
“The first quarter was tough, but obviously 33 unanswered points shows the strength of our offense,” Cantu said, when asked about the first half.
The start of the second half was more of the same with the defense continuing to put pressure on Harrison creating more scoring opportunities for the offense.
“Our defense was great today. These guys came to play,” Head Coach Steve Mojarro said, when asked about his defense performance.
While the offense continued to move the ball up and down the field, they failed to score in the third quarter, but Oliver put his name in ELAC’s record book.
Early in the quarter Oliver set a new record with 13 receptions in a game, finishing with 14 total. He surpassed the 12 receptions in a game set by Anthony Denham against Santa Barbara in 2009.
“It feels good. Stats are one thing, but getting the win is another thing,” Oliver said, when asked on setting the record.
In the third quarter, after the Huskie defense forced Chaffey to punt the ball away Huskie sophomore CJ Dudley fumbled the ball that was recovered by Panther freshman Steve Frank at the ELAC three yard line.
On the next play the Panthers finally got on the board when freshman running back Kevin Coleman rushed three yards for the touchdown making the score 33-7.
With the Huskies in control of the game beginning the final quarter most of the reserves got some live game action. The Huskies scored their last touchdown with 11:31 remaining in the game when freshman running back Jonathan Lopez scored a touchdown on a six yard run making the score 40-7.
The Panthers seemed to take advantage of the Huskies reserves scoring 20 unanswered points making the final score closer than it was 40-27.
Panther QB Harrison Stewart seemed to benefit from the Huskies reserves being in the game when with 8:37 remaining in the game he connected with sophomore WR Tim Diaz for a 43 yard touchdown pass on first and ten from the ELAC 43 yard line, making the score 40-14 after the extra point kick.
“You know these guys were getting game reps, it was good to get them out there. We had a good lead and we came up on top,” Zepeda said, regarding on his defense letting up.
With the win against Chaffey, ELAC, 5-3 overall and 2-3 in Conference play. While the Huskies are not eligible for the Mountain Conference’s automatic bowl-bid, the are still in the hunt for an at-large bid according to Mojarro.
The Huskies face winless El Camino College Compton College next Saturday ,Nov 3rd at 1 p.m. on Compton turf.
“We have to win out and hope for some teams to loose, but we take it one game at a time. Will see what happens we have to do our part and we will,” Garret said, after the game.
“The first quarter was tough, but obviously 33 unanswered points in the second quarter shows the strength of our offense,” Cantu said.
Cantu completed 22 out 42 passing attempts for 257 yards with four touchdowns in the first half.
Preston Oliver rushed for 66 yards on 14 rushing attempts while adding 10 receptions for 87 yards with a touchdown in the first half.
The start of the second half had the defense continuing to put pressure on Harrison.
“Our defense was great today,” Head Coach Steve Mojarro said.
Oliver set a new record with 14 receptions in a game. He broke Anthony Denham’s 12 catches against Santa Barbara in 2009.
“It feels good. Stats are one thing, but getting the win is another thing,” Oliver said.
With ELAC in control of the game in the final quarter, most of the reserves got some game action.
The Huskies scored their last touchdown with 11:31 remaining in the game when running back Jonathan Lopez scored a touchdown on a six yard run, making the score 40-7.
Chaffey took advantage of the Huskies reserves scoring 20 unanswered points, making the final score 40-27.
“It was good to get the guys out there. We had a good lead and we came up on top,” Zepeda said regarding on his defense letting up.
With the win, ELAC stands 5-3 overall, 2-3 in the Mountain Conference.
According to Mojarro, the Huskies are eligible for an at-large bid.
The Huskies play at El Camino College Compton Center Saturday at 1 p.m.