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East Los Angeles College sophomore wide receiver Antoise Fields' air bound acrobats hauls in a pass in a 21-13 Huskies win at San Diego Mesa. (Photo by Tadzio Garcia)
East Los Angeles College sophomore wide receiver Antoise Fields' air bound acrobats hauls in a pass in a 21-13 Huskies win at San Diego Mesa. (Photo by Tadzio Garcia)

ELAC football wins Top-10 Showdown 20-13

MONTEREY PARK, CA – In a battle of Southern California American Division Top-10 teams, it was No. 9-ranked East Los Angeles College that won 20-13 over No. 2 San Diego Mesa College.

The Huskies improve to 2-2 overall. ELAC ended Mesa’s (3-1) three game win streak.

The Huskies were tagged with 19 penalties for 199 yards, which dictated play for three quarters.

“We had to overcome a lot of penalty yards and should keep things cleaner when we’re put in these situations, said Godinez. “Our guys didn’t like that their backs were against the wall. They pushed through that adversity and it worked in a positive manner.”

Down 13-0 entering the fourth quarter, ELAC rallied for a comeback win.

“We don’t expect to lose even when down 13-0,” said sophomore defensive lineman Paula Kava (Honolulu, HI / Saint Louis HS). “We expected a comeback win.”

The Huskies did just that and scored three unanswered touchdowns while the beefed-up defense held Mesa to minus five yards in 21 plays.

The ELAC faithful dominated the stadium noise over the big Mesa homecoming crowd the final 15 minutes and had plenty to cheer about.

ELAC scored its first touchdown with 14:54 left in the game from an 8-play, 80-yard drive, from a 45-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Paul Herrera (Aspire Pacific Academy) to sophomore wide receiver Kenny Allen (Fairfax HS).

The PAT was blocked, but ELAC came within seven, down 13-6, with the momentum swinging their way.

ELAC scored three minutes later after the Husky defense held Mesa to a three-and-out for minus two yards. Herrera completed a 22-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Antoise Fields (Nogales HS).

Freshman kicker Hector Gomez (Roosevelt HS) split the uprights for the PAT and it was 13-13. Gomez already had missed a field goal attempt and a PAT.

“There was no pressure to tie the game after what happened because those (attempts) were blocked,” said Gomez. “I had faith in the line for the second PAT.”

ELAC then stopped the following Mesa drives, which netted 11 yards in 7 plays.

During the following ELAC series, the Huskies faced a 4-and-2 at the Mesa 42-yard line with the stadium crowd hooting and hollering on its feet. At the time, it was the biggest play for each team.

Herrera got surrounded by blue jerseys, scrambled under pressure, and connected on a 29-yard pass play with Allen to keep the drive alive.

The Huskies scored on the next play. Looking left to pass, Herrera broke his way out of a traffic jam, switched gears with a spin move to the right to avoid a sack, and threw a 13-yard touchdown strike to Allen.

It was a 5-play, 50-yard drive and ELAC led 20-13 with 4:07 left in the game.

The Huskies fourth quarter domination continued as the defense held Mesa’s final two drives to minus 14 yards in 11 plays.

“We feel we have the potential to dominate games. We just have to be able to clean up the little things and start a little bit faster,” said Godinez. “For the win, I credit our staff and team for pushing through the hard times and, hopefully, that will be a turning point in our season as we continue to grow.”

The game ended on ELAC freshman defensive lineman Jeremiah Jones’ (Pasadena HS) quarterback sack of Mesa’s Jeremiah Henderson for a seven-yard loss.

The Huskies had a state-high 11 quarterback sacks on the night, which tied a four-year ELAC record.

Sophomore defensive lineman Sione Vea (Honolulu, HI / Kalani H) led with a team-high 2.5 sacks (17 yards), one together with sophomore defensive lineman Amarray Jay (Durham, NC / Northern HS).

Adding two sacks each were sophomore defensive lineman Trestan Kueneman (Chino HS) and freshman linebacker Garrett Rogers (Don Lugo HS). Kueneman leads the Huskies with three sacks in four games.

Adding to the ELAC record with one sack apiece were sophomore linebacker Daniel Belton (South East HS), freshman defensive back Delon Collins (La Mirada Adult School) and sophomore defensive lineman Tysean Brown (Monrovia HS).

Mesa’s first touchdown was a 5-play, 49-yard drive of which 28 of those yards were from three ELAC penalties. Mesa led 7-0 with 9:51 remaining in the third quarter.

The second Mesa touchdown was a result of an ELAC fumble at their 42-yard line, which was returned by Mesa’s Jordan Gochenour to the ELAC one-yard line followed by a one-yard touchdown run for a 13-0 lead.

ELAC sophomore defensive back Qua'D Cheatham (Newark NJ / Barringer HS) blocked the PAT.

The Huskies out gained Mesa in total yardage 339 to 86.

Herrera finished the day 11-of-25 for 197 yards and three touchdowns, in addition a fumble. He replaced starting freshman quarterback Phillip Tran (San Jose / Archbishop Mitty High School) with 8:59 left in the third quarter.

“We put Paul Herrera in and we had options to gel,” said ELAC football coach Bobby Godinez. “He did an awesome job.”

Herrera began with two completions for 16 yards to sophomore wide receiver Deontavius Hall (Alabama / Central HS) then a 20 yard-pass to Allen.

“We feel confident in all our guys. We have faith in every single player on our team including the backups,” said Godinez. “Actually, we never tell our guys they’re a backup, they’re just the next guy up. Paul (Herrera) came in ready, took the bull by the horns and did the job.”

Tran was 13-of-25 for 87 yards.        

Allen led the Huskies with seven receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown, his third this season. Hall added five catches for 51 yards and a touchdown.

Sophomore running back Nicholas Hutson (Paramount HS) rushed for 42 yards on 10 carries.

On the defensive side, Vea had a team-high eight tackles. Kueneman and Rogers had seven each. Rogers has 35 on the season, 9th best in the state.

Sophomore linebacker Daniel Belton (South East HS) had six tackles. 

The special team’s unit improved from their last two games.

“The difference from the last two games on special teams is because we’ve really been focusing more in practice to learn from our mistakes. The intensity has been picked up,” said freshman linebacker Justin McIntire (KY / East Jessamine HS). “They (Mesa) had a couple big power returns on us so we definitely have more stuff to work on.”

Metro League play begins next week with ELAC hosting Santa Ana College (1-3) on Saturday, Sept. 30 at 6 p.m. in what could be a repeat of last year’s Metro League championship battle, a 26-21 ELAC win.

Both teams have played two ranked teams (Santa Ana has played No. 1-state ranked Fullerton College) with one team in common. ELAC lost to No. 6 Allan Hancock College 21-13. Santa Ana lost to the Bulldogs 50-35.

The Huskies, which began the season 1-2, enters Metro League play at .500.

“In our last two games, we didn’t lose to those teams, we lost to ourselves,” said Belton. “We’re developing our ability and comraderies so we don’t lose any more games.”

Other Metro League openers include Glendale Community College (0-4) at West LA College (0-4) and Pasadena City College (1-3) at ECC Compton (0-4) in the Tartars homecoming. LA Southwest College (0-4) has a bye.

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submitted by Tadzio Garcia