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East Los Angeles College wide receiver Cemaj Douglas returns a punt 44 yards for a touchdown in a 26-21 come-from-behind win at Santa Ana College on Oct. 1. (Photo by Tadzio Garcia)
East Los Angeles College wide receiver Cemaj Douglas returns a punt 44 yards for a touchdown in a 26-21 come-from-behind win at Santa Ana College on Oct. 1. (Photo by Tadzio Garcia)

ELAC football wins 26-21 comeback thriller

SANTA ANA, CA — Down 21-0 in the first quarter, the East Los Angeles College football team rallied for four touchdowns, the latter with 1:13 remaining in the game, and won a 26-21 comeback thriller against Santa Ana College.

“I knew we would give ourselves a chance,” said Bobby Godinez, ELAC first-year head coach. “We have a resilient football team, learning on the run. We put ourselves in tough situations, but we battle every week in practice and it paid off.”

“We have faith on our football team and I give my staff all the credit in the world. They are an awesome bunch and it correlates to the wins—this team, this staff,” said Godinez.

The Huskies surpassed last season’s total wins with the victory and stand 3-2 overall and 1-0 in American Conference Metro League play.

Santa Ana (0-5, 0-1) scored first to take a 7-0 lead a minute and 38 seconds into the game off a sophomore quarterback Conner Miller (Bretheran Christian High School) 41-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Kameron Taylor (Buena Park HS).

ELAC fumbled the kickoff return and Santa Ana cashed in on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Miller to Taylor and lead 14-0 at 10:01 in the first quarter. It was the third game this season that ELAC fumbled on its first possession.

A third Miller-to-Taylor touchdown pass, this one for 10 yards, made it 21-0. Santa Ana scored from a 13-play, 72-yard touchdown drive with 02:57 remaining in the second quarter.

ELAC coaches made a gutsy call. On 4th-and-1 from ELAC’s 37-yard line, freshman running back Namone Mayes (Georgia / Dacula HS) rushed 33 yards to the Santa Ana 30. ELAC, however, later failed on its second 4th-down attempt during the drive.

ELAC scored from a 7-play, 61 yard touchdown drive. Santos was 3-for-3 during the drive and scored on a 7-yard touchdown strike to sophomore tight end Ceejhay French-Love (Long Beach Poly HS) with 01:45 left in the first quarter.

ELAC scored the only points of the second quarter, a patient 15-play, 83-yard touchdown drive that culminated with a Santos 3-yard pass to French-Love with 05:55 remaining in the half. ELAC was down 21-13.

Key plays during the drive came from sophomore Levi Wells, who rushed for eight yards on a fake punt attempt, followed by an offsides call on Santa Ana, which kept the drive alive.

Freshman defensive lineman Trestan Kueneman (Chino HS) had two key tackles in the second quarter.

Two big runs highlighted the third quarter; the first was a Santos errant pass on 3rd-and-10 from the Santa Ana 27-yard line, intercepted by Santa Ana freshman running back Lautoa Nomura (Centennial HS) who returned the ball 93 yards to the East Los Angeles 4-yard line.

The second big run was an ELAC sophomore special team’s specialist Cemaj Douglas (Dorsey HS) 44-yards for a touchdown from a Santa Ana sophomore William Hanley (Brea Olinda HS) punt.

The score pulled ELAC within two, down 21-19 with 03:21 left in the third after the two-point conversion attempt failed.

The final quarter had the crowd from both sides reacting loudly. Both teams attempted fourth down plays, which each failed.

ELAC rallied three times, sandwiched with a Santos interception at midfield and a 15-yard Husky punt at midfield. The interception was with 8:08 left in the game from Santa Ana sophomore wide receiver Hakeem Thomas (Buena Park HS).

The final ELAC rally that proved to be the difference in the game, a drive that began with 3:41 remaining in the game.

Santos connected on each of his four passes during this drive—the third pass a 49-yarder complete to freshman wide receiver Kenny Allen (Fairfax HS) at the 7-yard line. ELAC scored a touchdown three plays later, but it nullified because of a Husky penalty.

On 3rd-and-goal from the 8-yard line, the Huskies scored from a Davenport run with 65 ticks left on the clock to the loud roar from the visiting ELAC fans. The Huskies had their second come-from-behind win of the season.

Santos was 31-for-61 for 361 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions. Miller was 11-for-38 for 109 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Santos has thrown for 1,279 yards in five games, 8th-best in the state.

Mayes led the Huskies with 100 yards rushing from 16 attempts.

Seven Huskies caught passes and gained yardage in double figures. Allen hauled in four passes for 98 yards. Catching seven passes each were Douglas and sophomore wide receiver Kyeree Wallace (Hamilton HS) for 70 and 50 yards, respectively.

Douglas averages 26.5 return yards per game, 16th best in the state.

French-Love grabbed four passes for 39 yards and two touchdowns. Adding 26 and 20 yards respectively from 2 catches each were freshman wide receiver Isiah Araujo (El Rancho HS) and Mayes.

Sophomore kicker Vicente Luis Juan has scored 26 points this year, 15th-best among statewide kickers, and the most points on the ELAC team. He has connected on 4-of-6 field goals and, is 16-for-18 on PATs.

On the defensive side, freshman safety Ryan Ausbrooks (Sterling Heights, MI / Henry Ford II HS) led the Huskies with eight tackles, six of them unassisted.

Three Huskies each had five tackles, all of them unassisted, sophomore defensive back Anthony Figueroa (Whittier HS), sophomore defensive linemen Christopher Blanton (Downey HS) and sophomore defensive lineman Imani Mitchell (Long Beach Poly HS). Mitchell had a quarterback sack for a Santa Ana 14-yard loss.

ELAC survived another game of miscues, 4 interceptions, and 119 yards in penalties from 3 flags.

“What our coaches always preach to us is it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,”  said sophomore defensive back Jason Ordaz (Salesian HS). “This close win is a boost for us. We will be disciplined, not take anyone lightly and take each game as it comes to win our (conference).”

In other action of the initial week of American Conference Metro League play, Pasadena City College (3-2, 1-0) squeezed a 31-20 win against ECC Compton (0-5, 0-1), West LA College (2-3, 1-1) won 58-9 vs. Glendale Community College (0-5, 0-0). LA Southwest (0-4) had a bye.

The Huskies travel to ECC Compton on Saturday, Oct. 8 for a 6 p.m. contest. El Camino College Compton Center is located at 1111. E. Artesia Boulevard in Compton, CA 90221.



story submitted by Tadzio Garcia