East County Sports

Griffins can’t handle Eagles’ success

Mt. San Jacinto's Sherrod White scores against Grossmont on Saturday.



By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

FLETCHER HILLS —- Everyone involved in Southern California community college football knew this day would come, but no one was fully prepared for the day when diminutive Mt. San Jacinto College would become a contender.

The college, located in the hamlet of San Jacinto (2 miles north of Hemet in SW Riverside County), hasn’t been truly competitive in football since the days of the long-defunct Desert Conference. The Eagles played against schools like MiraCosta (Ocenaside), Imperial Valley, Cerro Coso, and Palo Verde — almost all (the exception being College of the Desert in Palm Desert) which dropped the sport decades ago.

However, with massive population increases and changing demographics in the region, including several strong high school programs in nearby Temecula, Murrieta, and Moreno Valley areas, look who is at the top of the standings.

On Saturday, Mt. San Jacinto opened Mountain Division play in the American Conference by racing to a 28-0 lead, pasting host Grossmont, 56-26, at Mashin-Roth Memorial Field.

The Eagles have now defeated Grossmont for the third straight season after never winning in the modern era since the demise of the Desert Conference in the mid-1970s. Among the losses was Grossmont’s school-record 83-36 decision (most single-game points) in 2005, when the Griffins captured their second state championship and were declared No. 1 in the nation by J.C. Grid-Wire.

Today, MSJC (3-0 overall, 1-0 conference) is tied for first place with powerful Pasadena. The Griffins (2-2, 0-1) saw their 2-game winning streak snapped.

Mt. San Jacinto has played with a chip on its collective shoulders ever since a scheduled season opener against neighboring Riverside Community College. For COVID-19 reasons, the Riverside County Health Authority canceled the game after five Eagles tested positive for the virus forcing the team to be quarantined, but the Tigers announced in a college press release that they won by forfeit, despite CCCAA state officials stated that canceled non-conference games which are not played because of the pandemic will be no-contests.

While the Eagles may be listed at 3-1 in some sources,  the county’s “little brother” wants to prove themselves otherwise.

The Eagles raced to an 18-0 first-quarter lead thanks to running back Sherod White, who rushed for a 2-yard touchdown on the team’s first possession for an 8-0 lead, then collected a 20-yard swing pass from Devan Devan Freedlandto make it 15-0.

Devan Freedland (18-for-22, 133 yards, 3 TDs) followed with consecutive TD passes to Rashoud Shelton, covering 20 and 2 yards, as the short passing game dominated for the Eagles.

Grossmont snapped the streak o na fluky play. Because of penalties, the Griffins faced a 4th-and-goal from the Eagles-32. However, on a draw play, Chris Carter danced around two linebackers, broke a tackle and scooted to the left side, and turned the corner for a stunning touchdown.

Moments into the second quarter, Dylon Gebase hauled in an  8-yard pass from Brady Abt (18-for-41, 212 yards) to move the G-House to within 28-12, but the hosts never got closer.

One of the few highlights for Grossmont came in the final minute.

Immediately after the Eagles defense called a timeout to get organized with several second-stringers entering for the first time, Keiyon Holloway scampered to the right side, then followed Carter’s lead by breaking to the left and racing 75 yards for a dramatic yet cosmetic score.

Unlike Grossmont’s first three contests, when the defense did well when the opponent reached the red zone, the Eagles were able to score every time. Part of the reason was being on the field for the vast majority of the outing, as the Eagles forced five turnovers, including a pair of interceptions by safety Darryl Moody.

Meanwhile, Shvan Alkurdy gained the lone Griffins takeaway with an interception. The lone sack came from linebacker Jeremiah Fletcher.

Robert Coleman led MSJC with 81 yards n seven rushes, while Freedland converted a 3rd-and-long with a scrambled on a 43-yard carry. For Grossmont, Treyvion Davies carried for 106 yards thanks to his late TD gallop, but the workload went to Treyvion Davies (10-80), who also scored.

Griffins linebacker Jagger Giles led the Griffins with 8 tackles (7 solo). Meanwhile, Robert Whitehead and Tyler Buckley registered seven stops each.

The Griffins will next play a make-up game at Orange Coast on Saturday (Oct. 9), starting at 6 p.m. at historic LeBard Stadium in Costa Mesa. The team returns home in two weeks (Oct. 16) with a 3 p.m. outing against Pasadena.


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