By Dan Gudino
The football team came up short in a hard-fought battle at Antelope Valley College, losing 29-25 on Saturday.
With under a minute left in the game, East Los Angeles College seemed to have recovered a fumble, but the tackle and strip went unseen by officials.
“We can’t go against the refs. They make the calls, but I feel like we got cheated. A loss is a loss. We just have to come out harder and stronger the next game,” ELAC sophomore linebacker Christopher Blanton said.
With a chance to take the lead in the last two minutes, ELAC sophomore quarterback Jonathan Santos threw his second interception of the game. This interception was the last of four turnovers committed by the Huskies throughout the game. Santos finished 22 of 39 for 136 yards.
“I made a bad decision in the end. I should have just thrown it away and live to play another play. We executed when we needed, but it doesn’t matter in the end if it comes down to a failed last play,” Santos said.
ELAC head coach Bobby Godinez said games should never come to last minute situations and left in the hands of officiating.
“It was a combination of mental errors and good play by Antelope (Valley). They forced the turnovers and we shot ourselves in the foot again. A game should never come to officials deciding the game. We need to take care of business, but I do believe the ball came loose. However, a game should never come (down) to a fumble,” Godinez said.
ELAC responded punch-for-punch throughout the game. Heading into the fourth quarter, it was all squared at 16 apiece.
The desert heat of Lancaster kept the Huskies substituting players in and out. A new group of receivers was seen at the start of the second half to give the starters an extended break.
“It was a grinder of a game. We had to keep players fresh and we have plenty of players who are capable. Practice next week will be tough,” Godinez said.
The heat took its toll prior to the start of the game, as team buses pulled over twice on the climb into Lancaster to avoid overheating.
The day started with team buses arriving late to ELAC and arriving later than scheduled to Marauder Field.
The delay might have given the Huskies nerves, as sophomore corner Cinwon Whitehead fumbled the opening kickoff on his way to the endzone while untouched by defenders.
Husky sophomore running back Shaquille Shelton was seen back to his old form. Last year he led the Huskies in rushing yards, yet a high ankle sprain limited him to six games. Against Antelope Valley, he erupted, averaging six yards per run.
Over and over, Shelton would break tackles, evade defenders and scored a 22-yard TD to give ELAC a 22-16 lead at the start of the fourth.
“I’m getting back my momentum because we got a good group of players this year. The weight is not on my shoulders, we have Namone (Mayes sophomore RB), Shiloh (Jordan, sophomore RB) and Dom (Dominique Lee, sophomore RB). So, we have a great running back group. On any given day, any of us could pop-off and get a hundred yards rushing,” Shelton said.
Shelton finished with 116 yards on 19 carries and a TD.
Offensive coordinator Art Hoomiratana stressed the inexperience of his offense, yet he feels improvement is bound to happen.
“We can’t expect to win with so many mental errors on our part. We’ll take a look at what needs to be addressed because I feel we’re trying to do too much. All we need to do is take what’s given. Instead, we allowed our inexperience in close games to get to us. We’ll get better for sure, ” Hoomiratana said.
ELAC falls to 1-2 on the season and are back home against San Diego Mesa College, Sept. 24. Kickoff is at 6 p.m.