Response To Adversity Propels #22 Football To 4th Straight Win

Julius Ray makes one of his 11 tackles during PCC's win on Saturday night (photo by Richard Quinton)
Julius Ray makes one of his 11 tackles during PCC's win on Saturday night (photo by Richard Quinton)

After an evenly played first quarter, the state #22-ranked Pasadena City College football team hoped to find a way to pull away from its Saturday night opponent Victor Valley. Tied 7-7, matters were made worse for the Lancers when wide receiver Drushun Phillips was on the receiving end of an illegal hit following a catch in VVC territory.

Phillips laid on the Robinson Stadium turf being helped by the PCC athletic training staff for a significant period and eventually was brought by ambulance to a local hospital for observation (he was released and did return to campus following the contest). After a 32-minute delay at the start of the second quarter, no one would have faulted Lancers players if their emotions and thoughts were elsewhere.

Instead, PCC responded by wanting to do well for their fallen teammate and scored 36 consecutive points on its way to the program's fourth straight victory to start the 2023 season, 43-14. 

Mohammad Maali got things rolling with a 4-yard touchdown and Nico Razo's second of five extra point kicks gave PCC a 14-7 lead only 44 seconds after the resumption of the contest. On the ensuing series, a poor punt snap allowed Torriq Brumfield to tackle VVC punter Major Brown for a 9-yard loss and gave PCC the ball at the Rams' 30. 

Isaac Glover then raced in for a 17-yard TD for Pasadena's second score in a span of four minutes. Then with 1:28 before halftime, quarterback Kekahi Graham hit wide receiver Daniel Schwam for a 54-yard touchdown bomb. Jacob Turowetz took a fake kick snap in for a 2-point conversion run and a 29-7 Lancers' lead.

Late in the third quarter, another errant punt snap resulted in PCC recovering the ball on the VVC 2. Glover promptly sauntered in for his second touchdown, a 2-yard run to build the lead to 29 points. 

At the beginning of the fourth period, Alexander Arroyo forced a fumble recovered by Nesty Montfleury at the Rams' 38. Second-string QB Wyatt Oak took off for a 22-yard run and ultimately fired a 16-yard TD pass to Damien Gonzales for a 43-7 lead. 

PCC's defense was strong throughout with lineman Julius Ray recording a game-high 11 tackles, including five tackles behind the line of scrimmage and 2.5 sacks. Linebacker Michael Prappas made seven tackles while defensive end Israel Duncan picked up five tackles and 1.5 sacks. Linebacker Adrian Ramirez added five tackles (one sack) and knocked down a pass while linebacker Julian Estrada also tallied five tackles with a sack. 

Glover led the offense with 62 yards in 13 carries and his two scores upped his team-leading touchdown total to seven in just four games. Graham completed 15 of 23 passes for 143 yards and two TDs. Jordan Rodriguez led receivers with four receptions (29 yards) while LeMonte Holmes had three catches for 34 yards. 

The team's 4-0 start matches when it was last done in 2010 and improved Director of Football Operations/Head Coach Robert Tucker's PCC career record to 18-7 (48-10 overall at the California Community College level). 

"We're pleased with the way we've moved the ball offensively and how our defense has been limiting teams in every game," Tucker said. "We dealt with a tough situation tonight where we had to find a way to respond after the long delay without letting our emotions get the best of us. First and foremost, the kids care about each other and Drushun is a big part of the Lancers family. The players focused on executing on both sides of the ball and it resulted with a great second quarter."

Next week is an American Division showdown as PCC travels to face undefeated Chaffey, also 4-0, in a 6 p.m. SCFA kickoff.