East County Sports

Mesa defense makes ‘The Adjustments’

San Diego Mesa's Julian Sanderlin. / Nicole Noel

2021 COMMUNITY COLLEGE FOOTBALL

 

SAN DIEGO MESA 31, FULLERTON 16

By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

KEARNY MESA —- Football commentators on television and radio always seem to mention “halftime adjustments” made by the coaching staff. When it comes to community college football here in the Southland, no one team makes better changes than San Diego Mesa College.

The Olympians posted a third-quarter shutout of an opponent for the seventh time in nine on-field contests, then went on to post a complete second-half shutout to rally past visiting Fullerton College, 31-16, in Saturday’s (Nov. 20) make-up game at Merrill Douglas Stadium to complete the regular season.

With the triumph, Mesa (7-3 overall, 3-2 National Conference South) is expected to leap over Fullerton (6-4, 3-2) in the state rankings, clinching the tie-breaker for second place behind No.3 ranked and undefeated Golden West (10-0). Entering the week, the two polls had the Olympians ranked 13/15, while the Hornets were 9/12.

Trailing 16-14 at the break, Mesa’s offense quickly garnered a quick field goal to reclaim the lead at 17-16, then allowed the defense to do its thing.

It was the fourth second-half shutout of the season by Mesa, which is remarkable in this day with college football rules heavily favoring the offense. The only points were a field goal to East Los Angeles in Week 3, and 14 points to undefeated Golden West (10-0) three weeks ago.

Fullerton declared it was “an off-night” after the offense generated next-to-nothing over the final 30 minutes.

Mesa would beg to differ.

Following a go-ahead, 31-yard field goal by Donovan Warrento to open the half, Mesa defenders placed the clamps on the Hornets.

Fullerton answered with a series of first downs but never could enter the red zone.

A third-down play saw Mesa’s Chris Alba (Grossmont) register a sack of Chandler Galban, then Fullerton failed on a fourth-down pass.

The next Fullerton series ended on a 17-yard loss when the ball-0carrier finally gave up and went out-of-bounds.

The Mesa offense then contributed by holding the ball for a massive 14-play drive. Included were a pair of fourth-down plays (only one officially), as Fullerton was drawn off-sides on a hard count by Mesa quarterback Gunner Gray, who later completed a fourth-down pass of 22 yards to Antwoine Sullivan (team-best five receptions for 57 yards) for 22 yards to the Hornets-5.

Upon the start of the fourth quarter, Cael Patterson rushed for 2 and 3 yards, the latter for the score and a 24-16 advantage.

Fullerton could argue that the scoreless third period was due to just 61 seconds of possession time, but the argument didn’t hold water in the final stanza.

The Hornets started with a pair of  3-and-out drives.

The first set of downs saw a pair of incomplete passes sandwiched around a sack by Arthur Neil. Later, an incompletion was followed by a series of sacks by aze Zito and Daniel Hawk.

For the contest, Mesa reached the Fullerton QB eight times; the others were by Julian Sanderlin, John Carroll, Ezra Christensen, and Jonathan Vega.

Mesa cemented the victory on Cael Patterson’s touchdown rush for 28 yards and a 15-point lead.

The final two minutes saw Fullerton go the hurry=up offense, but the Mesa ‘D’ was prepared.

Galban was finally sacked for the 8th time, fumbling the ball away, with Andrew Abarca recovering near mid-field.

Stat of the Game: Mesa held Fullerton to minus-6 yards of offense in the second half.

Mesa’s leading tackler was Ethan Simley with five solo stops, followed by four from Raell Dellosa.

On offense, Gray gunned for 185 yards on a steady 17-for-33 passing with a pair of TDs. Patterson also rushed for two scores with 62 yards on 13 carries.

Watch the REPLAY on YouTube.

Cerritos 40, Southwestern 16

NORWALK —- The Cerritos Falcons, ranked No.24 in California by one poll (received votes in the other), earned a bowl berth after waltzing over Southwestern in Saturday’s (Nov. 20) regular-season finale at Falcon Stadium.

Cerritos posted a 16-cushion and were barely challenged.

Southwestern attempted to slow down the game via the running game, making a lengthy,  second-quarter drive. Finally, on the 15th play, JaQuan Dorsey scored on a 26-yard TD pass from Kahanu Davis.

One series later, Asher Booth kicked a 45-yard field goal, but it was the two plays in between which busted in the ballgame.

The Cerritos offense, which sat for more than seven minutes, reached the end zone in just two plays as Davon Booth husted loose on a 72-yard TD gallop, the highlight in the 430 yards of total offense produced by Cerritos.

Southwestern gained a highlight moment in the second half on Davis’ second TD pass on the night, hitting Sean Bryant on a 63-yarder.

The Jags’ top receiver was JaQuan Dorsey, with 10 grabs for 98 yards and a score.

Despite a .500 record, Cerritos (5-5) earned a berth in the Western State Bowl, meeting host San Diego Mesa next Saturday (Nov. 27) at 6 p.m.

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