PALM DESERT, CA — After leading 21-0 in the first quarter and down nine point’s mid-third, the Southern California American Division’s No. 3-ranked Huskies bounced back and won the Patriotic Bowl 63-37 against No. 4 College of the Desert at Boone Field.
“Just like our whole season, our team is so resilient and they showed that resolve tonight,” said ELAC Head Coach Bobby Godinez. “We started fast, got punched back in the face and overcame the adversity we had.”
“Adversity was the name of our game this year,” said Godinez. “We’ve overcome every step along the way and it proved to be beneficial tonight. These kids deserve all the credit.”
ELAC won its second bowl game in five years and finished 9-2 overall and champions of the American Metro. It is the first winning season for the Huskies since ELAC won the American Mountain Conference Championship in 2011.
Desert (6-5) won the co-championship of the American Mountain Conference this year.
ELAC sophomore quarterback Johnathan Santos (South East High School) won the Most Valuable Player award after the win.
It was a record night for Santos who completed 21-of-29 passes for 366 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions. His six touchdowns tied the ELAC football record held by Aaron Cantu for most touchdown passes thrown in one game.
Cantu, who currently teaches in the Montebello Unified School District and is an assistant football coach at Schurr High School, threw six touchdowns in three different games during the 2012 season.
Freshman safety Joey Knowles (John Muir HS) received the Defensive Player of the Game Award. Desert freshman quarterback De'Abrie Smith (Palatka, FL) was named the Offensive Player of the Game.
Desert erased the 21-0 first quarter Husky lead with a freshman running back Kamone Best (NC Eastern Wayne HS) 20-yard touchdown run and the Roadrunners led 37-28 with 7:38 remaining in the third period.
The Huskies bounced back with a touchdown 11 seconds later, a freshman wide receiver Branden Peterson (Las Vegas, NV / Desert Oasis HS) 75-yard reception from Santos to pull within two, 37-35. It was Santos’ longest touchdown throw of the season.
The overflow ELAC crowd, band and Cheer Squad on the visitor’s side filled the stadium with loud noise as ELAC added four more touchdowns, unanswered, to win by 26 points.
In the fourth quarter, Santos threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Kenny Allen (Fairfax HS) who leaped to make the stunning reception. ELAC had the lead and the momentum, 42-37, with 14:04 remaining in the game.
A minute later, Desert had a 4th-and-1 from their own 19-yard line and went for it. Two Husky sophomore defensive lineman made the biggest play of the night as Imani Mitchell (Long Beach Poly) and Christopher Blanton (Downey HS) stopped Smith for no gain.
Three plays later, Santos threw his fifth touchdown pass, a 17-yard reception to sophomore wide receiver Khamren Davenport (Frederick Douglas HS). ELAC led 49-37. Another Santos-to-Davenport touchdown toss, this one for 10 yards, made it 56-17 with 7:17 left in the game.
ELAC sophomore quarterback Levi Wells began ELAC’s next drive at the Desert 42 yard line with 5:56 left in the game. Levi took two plays in 28 seconds, to score ELAC’s final touchdown, a 10-yard reception to Allen.
In the first quarter, ELAC wasted no time in getting its offense grooving and scored three straight touchdowns in a 4:41 minute span. ELAC led 28-14 in the second quarter followed by a Desert two-quarter rally that gave the Roadrunners a 30-28 lead from a freshman Ethan Skarmas’ 37-yard field goal in the third quarter.
The Huskies scored 463 total points this year, 4th-most in the state, eclipsing the previous record of 357 scored during the Cantu-led 2011 season.
The Husky offense put together their best effort with a season-high 506 yards. Sophomore running back Shiloh Jordan (Owings Mills, MD / New Town HS) rushed for a team-high 44 yards in 10 runs.
Sophomore running back Shaquille Shelton (Crenshaw HS) rushed for a touchdown as did Santos. Allen had a game-high 122 yards from four receptions with three touchdowns. His season total of 10-receptions-for-touchdowns is 10th best in the state.
Sophomore kicker Vicente Luis Juan connected on 9-of-9 PATs. He ended the year with 52 PATs in one season, an ELAC record. ELAC’s 59 PATs are the 3rd-most in the state. Sophomore linebacker Anthony Perez (TX Bastrop HS) scored 7-of-7 PATs in a 56-22 Compton win mid-season.
Leading the defense were freshman linebacker Elijah Quarles (Pasadena HS), Knowles and Perez with 12, 11 and 10 tackles respectively. Knowles had nine solo tackles.
Freshman safety Trevon Bordrick (Wilmington, DE / Howard of Tech HS) and sophomore Linebacker Imani Mitchell each had nine tackles for the Huskies.
Freshman safety Ryan Ausbrooks (Sterling Heights, MI / Henry Ford II) had two quarterback sacks and three of his five tackles totaled a loss of 20 yards for Desert.
“I’m just excited for the victory,” said Godinez. “My coaches had a say in the win as well. I have the best coaching staff. They prepare with the best, get their kids motivated, who in (return) want to play for these guys. That’s one of the best things. It makes my job so easy.”
“I’m blessed to be here and for this bowl win,” said Godinez. “We’re going to enjoy it. It’s only going to go up from here.”
story submitted by Tadzio Garcia