Football Overcomes Turnovers, Edges Pierce On Vergara FG

Justin Vergara boots the game-winning field goal at Pierce (photo by Richard Quinton).
Justin Vergara boots the game-winning field goal at Pierce (photo by Richard Quinton).

Justin Vergara's 35-yard field goal with 5:15 left allowed the Pasadena City College football team to sneak out of LA Pierce with a 20-17, SCFA American Pacific League victory on Saturday afternoon. PCC won despite committing six turnovers, two for first-quarter touchdowns.

The Lancers improved to 6-1 overall and now 2-0 in league play. PCC's defense has limited its two league opponents to just two field goals combined.

Vergara's game-winning kick capped a 13-play drive that lasted seven minutes as lefty quarterback Kekahi Graham drove the Lancers downfield on first-down passes to Joshua Barron for 11 yards and Daniel Schwam for eight yards. Graham added a 13-yard keeper while running back Isaac Glover carried six times for 25 yards. His last two rushes put Vergara in perfect position to end a perfect afternoon for the letterman kicker.

Vergara was 2-for-2 on FGs, drilling a 34-yard attempt in the third quarter for a 17-14 Lancer lead and making 2-for-2 on extra point kicks. He also had three touchbacks on kickoffs.

Pierce (3-4, 0-2) was pinned on its last series when Vergara's kickoff curved into the front corner of the opposing end zone and stopped at the 4-yard line forcing kick returner Jerry McGhee Jr. to make a short return to the Brahmas' 11. PCC's defense stood tough and eventually thwarted any attempt of a comeback when Keiyon Johnson broke up a pass that stalled Pierce at its own 34. 

The Brahmas took a 7-0 lead when defensive back Stefan Roberts picked off a Graham pass and raced in for a 45-yard interception return for a TD just 5:56 into the contest. After Mohammad Maali helped PCC tie it at 7-7 on a 3-yard TD run, Roberts struck again by stepping in front of a short Graham pass and returning it 17 yards for a pick-6. Matthew Ceja's extra point allowed Pierce to lead 14-7 at the end of the first quarter.

The PCC special teams came up big in the second quarter when Adrian Nava broke through the line and tackled Pierce's Marcelo Asan-Ortiz at the Pierce 16 after the punter was forced to scramble under pressure. After a 13-yard run by Glover into the red zone, a 23-yard errant, shot-gun snap put the Lancers back on the 26. Graham got it all back with a 24-yard pass to Greg Moore. Graham then followed with a 2-yard TD carry that tied it at 14-14 with 5:13 remaining before halftime.

Lancers cornerback Idrique Carmichael (Pasadena HS) twice stopped Pierce second-quarter drives with a pair of interceptions. Both occured with the Brahmas in PCC territory. Carmichael added four tackles and broke up a pass. Sophomore safety Devon Mayes led all tacklers with seven (six solos) while Jachai Pulley, Kyden Bailey, Elijah Lewis, and Israel Duncan each recorded five tackles.

Jacob Turowetz, who is the holder on PCC special teams kicks, made a 53-yard punt, the longest by the team all season that pinned Pierce at its 9 late in the second quarter. 

Glover totaled 87 yards in 14 carries while Maali added 47 yards in six attempts. William Parra led receivers with five catches for 37 yards. 

Next Saturday, Oct. 28, the Lancers return to Robinson Stadium to face Los Angeles Southwest College (4-3, 1-1) in a APL game. Kickoff is 6 p.m.

PCC GRID NOTES: After seven games, Carmichael is having a banner season as he leads PCC in interceptions (five, tied for second in the state) and pass breakups (seven, tie d for 14th in the state)...Pulley, a linebacker, leads the team in tackles with 36 while defensive end Julius Ray has 35 tackles (13.5 behind the line of scrimmage) plus a team-best seven sacks...The sophomore Glover has amassed 578 rushing yards and 391 kick return yards to pace the Lancers in both categories...Graham has passed for 1,297 yards and 17 TDs and his best target has been receiver Jordan Rodriguez, who tops the squad with 25 receptions for 240 yards...Vergara is 5-for-6 on field goals, 13-for-13 on extra point kicks and in double figures on touchbacks this season...The team's offense is ninth in the state at 40.7 points per game while the defense is 13th in points allowed average (18 per game)...PCC Director of Football Operations/Head Coach Robert Tucker collected his 20th Lancers win (20-8 overall) since taking over the program in the 2021.