East County Sports

Kicking, defense deciding factor as Jaguars beat Comets in Beach Bowl

The undercurrent of this bowl game was exceptional kicking, and stout defense. Without both of these component parts, Ed Carberry’s Southwestern College team likely would not have lifted the trophy for the 2018 Beach Bowl, held at Southwestern’s DeVore Stadium.

There were pockets of brilliance in the second half by Joe Early’s Palomar Comets, that certainly would shake the Southwestern foundation and nearly upset the ultimate winners, but it was not to be.

With the early lead, and the Jaguars dominant through the first half going to the break with a favorable 28-7 scoreline, it suddenly became a coach’s game deep into the third quarter, as the Comets, led by a strong performance from quarterback Connor Curry, mounted a strong opposition.

Ed Carberry though, is a masterful coach at this level. His experience and understanding of his team proved to be too much to overcome, despite a distinct offensive advantage by Palomar’s squad (the Comets outpaced the Jags by 80 total yards on offense and a full nine minutes more of offensive possession).

You could see the frustration mounting on the Comets’ sideline, as they accepted the strategic plays by Carberry to select his timeouts to break momentum, make changes of players for intimidation and ultimately run the clock by taking the knee to win the game. Some would call it an act of survival – there may be truth to that, but the lead never changed hands in the game.

From the beginning this would be a special Beach Bowl game

The beautiful rendition of the National anthem set the stage for what would be a hard-fought game by both sides. The Flag picked up momentarily to acknowledge the anthem in the wind. In what was otherwise a warm day on the field thanks to DeVore Stadium’s black rubber pellets on the surface of the artificial turf that seem to soak up the sun, this game had a certain heat building under the surface.

Dominating the first half, the Jaguars struck early on, and despite domination in the second half by the Comets, this was a lot more even than the stats play out start to finish. Notably: there were some amazing defensive plays and kick placements by the Jaguar players.

The concrete stadium wasn’t as full as one might expect, little more than 300 people there, most are intimately connected with the team. Lincoln High School’s Coach David Dunn, a former NFL player was in the seats, his son a Southwestern player who featured for a couple of tackles in the game. Coach Dunn’s Lincoln Hornets will play for the CIF Championship on Nov. 23 against the Mira Mesa Marauders.

Fans of football who didn’t show up for the game can kick themselves for missing one of the most spirited and interesting games in recent San Diego community college history. It simply was a great day to be a football fan.

Some Play Highlights from the Beach Bowl 2018

Some big hits came throughout the game, one, in particular, was courtesy of Quentin Walker, who wrapped up Connor Curry to end the first quarter.

Another massive hit that was perhaps very influential as it happened late in the fourth and seemed to interrupt the Comet momentum was a smash by former Grossmont Foothiller Will Havird to stop what could have been a runaway to only seven yards at about 8:40 minute mark.

This was a crucial hit because it forced the punt and stopped the drive with Comet’s unable to convert on the 3rd and 9 play.

Some big passes were showcased in this game as well, including a gorgeous reception Curry to Barkley for a touchdown with the QB under immense pressure. His talent at this level is evident. It was this pass that forced Carberry’s hand and required some talented coaching calls to shut down the offensive push by the Palomar squad.

Of note was a beauty from Hernandez to Howard very late in the second quarter setting up a 1-yard rushing Touchdown by Terrell Johnson. Real Pretty Football for the Jags.

Several great runs were showcased, including the monster 56-yard run in the second at about nine-and-a-half minutes remaining by Deandre Daniels which set up the second touchdown for the Jaguars.

And there were kicks that would astonish with their placement; it made this game a fun one to behold. Medina seemed to be able to command the ball to stick to the field’s surface and was placing his punts at will. Mark Alejandre kicking for the extra point landed one outside of the stadium for some cheers also.

Speaking of kicking – Jaime Medina will move on to SDSU in the offseason. Coach Carberry, when asked about his thoughts on the matter, said: “State is fortunate to have him.”

For a few moments the tide shifted and the momentum was in the Comet’s control, it seemed a catalyzing event when at 2:28 left in the third, an interception of Curry’s pass by Jadarius Horton was fumbled on the return only 5 yards into the run back, Logan Gamble picked up the ball that was swatted by Bryce Walker; Gamble took it thirty yards into the end zone. Mark Meader’s kick attempt was good as Palomar started their charge back, deep in the third.

For true fans of the game who had no vested interest in the teams per se, this was a great game to watch. It was never secure after the second half started, and Early’s Comets probably felt legitimately capable of winning the game after that reversal of the interception. It was truly something special to maintain the momentum that had been swelling in the Comet offensive.

In the end, it would be a Jaguar victory against an underdog, but a not insubstantial Comet squad, who for lack of a better description tested Southwestern’s ability to leave it all on the field. Comets can be proud of their play but on the day the better team won. The fitting end cap after lifting the Bowl trophy with his team, Coach Carberry answered this reporter’s question (“It never gets old, winning?”) – “No, it sure doesn’t ever get old.” A Carberry classic quote.

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