PCC Football's Vergara Kicks Record 4 FGs, But Chaffey Wins American Division Bowl

Offensive linemen Michael Juarez (73) and Jacen Guerra (55) lead the block for Mohammad Maali during the American Bowl at Chaffey (photo by Richard Quinton).
Offensive linemen Michael Juarez (73) and Jacen Guerra (55) lead the block for Mohammad Maali during the American Bowl at Chaffey (photo by Richard Quinton).

The Pasadena City College football team saw a school-record performance by kicker Justin Vergara, but his four field goals were not enough as host Chaffey completed its perfect season at 11-0 to win the SCFA American Division Championship Saturday night.

Named the PCC Player of the Game at the bowl, Vergara drilled field goals from 23, 25, 19 and a 33-yards, the last giving the Lancers (9-2) their only lead at 12-10 with 2:15 left in the third quarter.

The Lancers had numerous opportunities to reach the end zone, and made one last-ditch effort to score late in the fourth quarter. PCC put together the longest drive of the season in plays with 20, marching from its on 18-yard line. On a fourth down-and-7, reserve quarterback Kaden Taylor recovered after having to collect an errant shot-gun snap to somehow complete a 7-yard, first-down completion to Damien Gonzales at the Chaffey 19.

PCC faced another 4th-and-7 obstacle, but a Panthers' pass interference penalty kept the Lancers chances alive as they reached the Chaffey 10. Two PCC penalties backed up the Lancers to the 25 before starting QB Kekahi Graham raced 11 yards to the 14 that set up one more fourth down play. Graham's pass to the end zone intended for receiver Jacob Turowetz fell incomplete with 1:27 left that ended the drive and the season.

"Super proud of our team's efforts on both sides of the ball," said PCC Director of Football Operations/Head Coach Robert Tucker. "Chaffey is a very good team that hurt us with big plays the first time we faced them. We did such a good job of containing them in this bowl, and while we didn't reach the end zone, we did everything we could to win. We appreciate the fan support as a visiting team (a large contingent) and we still have a Pacific League title and a 9-win season to look back on."

Chaffey received three field goals by its kicker Anthony Hagan, including an 18-yarder 51 second into the fourth quarter that regained the lead for the Panthers at 13-12. He later drilled a 43-yard attempt that forced PCC into a must-score TD situation. The game's only touchdown was scored by game MVP and Chaffey quarterback Dereun Dortch on a 1-yard keeper only 5:21 into the game.

PCC's defense was led by linebackers Jachai Pulley (11 tackles, one sack), Torriq Brumfield, who made eight tackles, broke up a pass and added two quarterback hurries, and Adrian Ramirez with nine tackles. Linemen Kyden Bailey contributed 1.5 sacks, Jose Oliveros had six tackles. Safety Devon Mayes broke up two passes.

Offensively, Graham completed 20 of 39 passes for 174 yards and added 29 yards rushing, running back Isaac Glover totaled 58 yards in 18 carries, and receiver William Parra made a team-high five catches for 50 yards. 

Vergara capped a remarkable season and 2-year PCC career as he nearly was perfect on kicks in 2023. He made 14 of 15 field goals, 21-for-21 on extra point attempts and was one of the state's best kickoff artists with 24 touchbacks. In his career, he was 21-for-24 on field goals (88 percent efficiency) 49-for-51 on extra points and finished with 112 points.

It is the second most FGs in PCC history for one season (most since Paul Gielgens kicked 14 in 1981) and just one short of tying the PCC record for 3-pointers in a season set by PCC Hall of Famer and former NFL All-Pro Mike Lansford, who kicked 15 during the program's Junior Rose Bowl and national championship season of 1977. That team was inducted into the Lancers Hall earlier this year.

Glover led the team in all-purpose yards with 1,225, including a team-best 764 rushing yards in 137 carries (5.6 yards per carry) while leading the team in scoring with 11 touchdowns. Graham completed 190 of 308 attempts for 2,013 passing yards and 21 TDs and also had four rushing scores. Jordan Rodriguez led the team's receivers with 43 catches for 409 yards.

Pulley made a team-high 69 tackles (39 solos), Brumfield recorded 57 tackles, five pass break-ups, two interceptions (one for a TD) and 3.5 sacks, Ramirez 49 tackles and five sacks, and lineman Julius Ray had 42 tackles and a team-best 9.5 sacks. Cornerback Idrique Carmichael made seven interceptions, the most by a PCC player since 2007, and broke up eight passes.

Justin Vergara with PCC Player of the Game trophy and Coach Tucker