The Lancers lined up at their very own 3-yard line in a 21-21 ball game with six minutes remaining left in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Kade Wentz scrambled on second down, almost running into his own lineman, and bought enough time to find his running back, Miles Anderson, running free down the left sideline.
“I love this team so much, they’re so resilient,” Wentz said. “You know this team has so much heart, we play with so much heart. Down 7 at halftime, we came out guns blazing.”
Before Miles Anderson crossed the end zone, Wentz was leaping into the air like the Breakfast Club movie ending, facing the PCC sideline and pumping up the crowd. The Lancers went up 28-21 with six minutes left, cheering up an already exultant crowd. PCC defeated the Dons 28-21 when Wentz hiked the football in victory formation, sparking a celebration for the first time at PCC since 2001. PCC finish the season with a 9-2 record, a piece of the American-Mountain division, and the Southern California Bowl championship.
Neither the Lancers nor the Dons looked very fresh in the first half. Dons quarterback, Cesar Ayala, threw a high spiral on the left corner of the end zone. Kaydon Spens leaped with the wide receiver, accidentally flipping the ball catcher mid-air. Spens trotted away giving the no fly zone signal, but the call catcher remained on the floor.
Meanwhile, Wentz and the PCC offense was less than spectacular. Wentz threw a wheel route on third and 7 to a customarily dependable Jabari Kindle. The ball was thrown slightly behind Kindle, but it was still catchable, as the defender played chase. The result of the play was a drop and caused the Lancers to punt the football.
PCC made very little plays in the first half and Santa Ana College seemed to have most of the momentum. With no marching band and no cheerleaders on a very thin sideline to motivate them, one of the few plays that PCC made was when Santa Ana College neared the PCC red zone. Early in the second quarter, Ayala threw an underneath route to his receiver, but Jordan Monroe picked it off and ran it back 97-yards for pick six.
“That’s something that we’ve been working on during practice,” Monroe said. “I just relied on my coach. He said ‘watch out for the slants’, so I was in the perfect window. I have to give it to my coach for that one.”
Even with plays by Monroe, Santa Ana College still led the game at halftime 21-14. One of the largest issues the Lancers were having was stopping the Dons from running the football. Dons running back, Gary Ferman, had 88 yards at halftime and over 152 yards for the game. Coach Tucker admitted that they were overplaying the pass, but the ground game was helping the Dons with time of possession and net rushing yards. The Dons led the rushing attack with 121-yards by halftime, while PCC merely had 18-yards.
Santa Ana College came out more explosive in the second half than they played in the first half. On the kickoff, two Dons knocked both the gunner and the returner to the floor. If anyone was going to bring this team back, it was going to be the special teams and defense. The defense had been relied upon to win games all season long, but this was the defining moment of this program.
Late in the third quarter, Kaydon Spens blocked a field goal kick, his sixth of the season, that would have put the Dons up by 10 points. On another drive, PCC came up with back-to-back sacks from Carlos Ramirez and Michelangelo Loretto. Even Freshman nose tackle Justin Lopez made his fair share of plays. When he lined up across the Dons offensive line at 6 foot 470-pounds, PCC was finally able to stop the Dons running attack.
Once PCC made those stops, the momentum started swinging in their favor. After an excellent punt return by wide receiver Jeremiah Hartfield and a hands to the face penalty, the Lancers offense started at their own 49-yard line.
Wentz hiked the football in similar fashion from what they were doing all night, but this time he faked the pitch to the running back, and handed it to Justin Campbell on the end around. As a result, the right side of the field was wide open. Campbell knocked down the last defender and barreled his way through, still standing upright in the end zone. The Lancers tied the football game 21-21 with a little more than eight minutes left in the fourth quarter.
“We had that play call in the back of our pocket all game,” Campbell said. “We just had to find the right moment to use it and we read the coverage in the defense and saw it as a good opportunity, and I just made the best out of it. I saw grass and one person and I knew that I could get the job done.”
After the PCC touchdown, the Dons took a deep shot down the field. The throw was almost perfect because it landed right in the receivers hands. But it was Salah Odeh who came up with the football by the time the two landed on the turf. Odeh raised his hands and pointed towards the other direction, signaling a turnover. The Lancers were clicking on all cylinders and went on to win the game. Kade Wentz came away with MVP honors after passing 18-24 268 yards and a touchdown. Jordan Monroe was named the player of the game after his 97-yard interception for a touchdown.
“This team has no quit in them, they have great character, highly accountable to each other, they trust each other. It’s a huge family, it’s awesome,” said head coach Robert Tucker.
Coach Tucker responded to what’s the next step.
“Next, we celebrate baby,” Tucker said.
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