East County Sports

Jaguars turn lights out on ‘host’ Griffs

Grossmont's Payton Monson catches a touchdown pass. / P.J. Panebianco





By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

CHULA VISTA —- When there’s a jump ball in basketball, only two things can happen: you get the ball or the other team gets the ball.

In football, when a quarterback tosses the ball up for grabs, three things can happen… and two of them are bad for the offense: the pass can be intercepted or fall incomplete.

However, in the case of Southwestern College quarterback Stevie Orr, his floater in the final minutes was hauled in by receiver Christian Jourdain for a touchdown, giving the Jaguars a 10-7 decision over Grossmont College in Saturday’s (Sept. 4) community college opener. Although Grossmont was the designated home side, the ballgame was held at Southwestern’s Chet DeVore Stadium.

With both sides unable to move the ball throughout the contest, Southwestern finally made a change and used its tight end as a lead blocker. When Grossmont adjusted with a linebacker, that left the secondary one defender short.

The cat-and-mouse game between the coaches saw Southwestern adjust with four receivers in a double-slot formation, yet they kept handing the ball to running back Albert Robinson (team-high 30 yards on six carries, all in the second half), forcing the Griffins to call a timeout to regroup following consecutive gallops for first downs to reach the red zone. The runs were all behind linemen Eric Brendal (Sweetwater) and Daniel Plascencia.

So when Grossmont anticipated another run, Orr countered on a first down play, narrowly avoided a sack, and went deep, as Jourdain, a native of New Orleans, La., was able to out-leap the free safety for the game-winning score on a 26-yard connection with 4:36 remaining.

Jourdain was the top offensive performer in the game with six receptions for 88 yards, although he lost a fumble in the first half.

It was a disappointing end for a Grossmont defense that yielded just 187 yards in total offense all night. Included were interceptions by Robert Whitehead and Ajani Shelton.

The Griffins tallied their lone points early in the second quarter when quarterback Brady Abt, a sophomore who played last for the Griffins in 2018, not ’19, dropped the ball over a Jaguars defender and directly into the arms of receiver Payton Monson. The drive covered just 32 yards following a short punt and a penalty on the Jags.

Monson was the Abt’s top target on the night, catching eight passes for 88 yards. Abt went 17-for-31 for 155 yards and an interception by Southwestern Tre Trylor.

“Too many penalties that kill drives, too many calls, unlucky things we need to clean up,” Abt said. “We played hard, disciplined, and are doing a lot of things right. We will clean it up and get better. We are a tight group. It was a lot of fun tonight. We are going to keep working hard, improving on reducing mental mistakes.”

Southwestern got on the scoreboard with 2:28 left before halftime, when Asher Boothe, a 24-year-old freshman, drilled a 50-yard field goal.

The rest of the night belonged to the defenses. And the officials. The teams were flagged a combined 32 times for 244 yards, with 153 yards (20 penalties) coming against Grossmont.

Southwestern freshman strong safety Jaheem Williams, from Montgomery High, was the biggest impact player of several on the side without the ball.

Williams had eight tackles, including two sacks, and two more for loss, while also defending a pair of passes in a brilliant debut.

Andrew Kirk, from Chandler (Ariz.) High, is the other safety, and had five tackles, including one for loss.

Jaguar veteran corner Arnold Escano, from Olympian High, made the game-saving defensive play on a fourth-down attempt at the end zone on the Griffins’ final drive with a leaping PBU. He added three tackles, and another defended pass, as well.

Freshman Michael Harrington defended a pair of passes and recovered a fumble for Southwestern.

Jeriah Jackson, a freshman out of San Diego High, Gabe Acosta, a freshman from Eastlake, and Jace Fuamatu, who played offensive line at Fresno State, each had a sack for the Jags.

Grossmont’s defense was almost equally as impressive, but considering some of the leaks the unit has shown prior to the one-year hiatus, the performance was a welcome sight.

The Griffins have an impact player in sophomore Demanual Talauati, out of Madison High.

Talauati had a sack, forced a fumble, made four tackles, and had a pair of quarterback hurries.

Also showing out in green was Shelton, the son of former NFL veteran offensive lineman A.J. Shelton, and the grandson of the late NBA veteran Lonnie Shelton. He had an interception, which he returned 25 yards, had four tackles, including two for loss, and broke up another pass.

Whitehead, the former Steele Canyon Cougar, was tough to beat as the sophomore had no fewer than five passes defended to go along with his pick.

Former Steele tackling star Colton Guerrero recovered a pair of fumbles in the first half, one of which he returned to 26 as the Griffins stopped a Southwestern drive inside the 5.

Rock Gonzalez, the former Olympian star, had a pair of sacks for Grossmont, and two other tackles for loss.

Sophomore Chance Lovato was everywhere for the G-House defense with six solo stops, five assists, and a pair of pass breakups.

“The defense played solid,” Lovato said. “It was great being back on the field for the first time in two years. We’ve got a solid squad.”

The stadium lights turned off automatically midway through the third quarter, causing a 10-minute delay.

Next week, Southwestern (1-0) will meet College of the Canyons in the Jaguars’ official home opener. Grossmont (0-1) opens a two-game road trip in Costa Mesa against Orange Coast College.


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