Big-Play Defense Sparks Football's Comeback Victory Over Citrus

With Kaydon Spens defending the Citrus receiver, Osvaldo Raigosa goes after the interception in Saturday's night win over Citrus at Robinson Stadium (photo by Chris Cordova).
With Kaydon Spens defending the Citrus receiver, Osvaldo Raigosa goes after the interception in Saturday's night win over Citrus at Robinson Stadium (photo by Chris Cordova).

Cornerback Kaydon Spens blocked a punt and recovered it for a touchdown with 9:23 left, then a minute later safety Osvaldo Raigosa's second interception of the game set up Cristian Contreras to kick the game-winning 25-yard field goal as the Pasadena City College football team downed Citrus, 30-27, at Robinson Stadium on Saturday night.

Pasadena won its third straight game under first-year Director of Football Operations/Head Coach Robert Tucker, upping the Lancers record to 3-1.

PCC held the Owls state-leading offense to just 339 yards or 143 less than its 482-yard average coming into the contest as the Lancers doubled Citrus in first downs, 26-13. Pasadena's defense forced three turnovers and limited one of the state's top passing quarterbacks Adam Urena to just 125 yards.

In the first half, Citrus had 26 plays for 260 yards and four scores (two touchdowns, two field goals), but Coach Tucker's defense completely stifled the Owls in the entire second half. PCC limited them to just 79 offensive yards, four first downs and no offensive points. 

Citrus led by as much as 17-7, then 20-14 at halftime before PCC tied it at 20-20 on Jabari Kindle's 1-yard TD run with 2:19 left in the third quarter. The Owls responded with a 41-yard interception return for a touchdown by Kendall Henderson at the end of the period for a 27-20 Citrus advantage. 

Spens has stepped up his game even after his 2019 All-State performance. The shutdown defensive back knew his team needed a big play and he delivered when he cut through the Citrus special teams to block a punt by Ivan Castro inside the 10 yard-line. Spens scooped up the ball and finished off a 17-yard blocked punt return for a touchdown. It was the sophomore's second blocked punt in four games. Contreras booted the extra point to tie at 27-27. 

On the ensuing series, Raigosa picked off a Urena pass and returned it 23 yards to the Citrus 9. The left-footed Contreras, who had earlier seen a streak of 15 straight extra points end on a miss following a poor snap, calmly put a short field goal through the uprights for a 3-point lead with 7:03 left. 

Citrus (2-2) went to its second quarterback Trent Young who drove the Owls to the Lancers' 21. At that point, PCC's defense stiffened with Jessie Canizales tackling running back Denzel Knox for a 2-yard loss, then Michelangelo Loretto putting up a brick wall for no gain on the next play. With 49 seconds left, Citrus kicker Ivan Castro, who had booted two field goals already, came on to try to tie it, but his 37-yard attempt went wide left as the Lancers celebrated their final stop.

PCC's offense relied once again on sophomore quarterback Kade Wentz, who completed 16 of 31 passes for 184 yards and rushed for a season-high 100 yards in 19 attempts. Wentz completed a 41-yard touchdown strike to Wheeler Smith for an early 7-0 lead 3:07 into the game.

Midway through the second quarter, Wentz raced to the end zone for a 15-yard TD that cut Citrus' lead to 17-14 at that point. The touchdown was set up by PCC's defense and special teams. First, lineman JeanCarlos Paz tackled Dina for an 8-yard loss on a short pass that nearly turned into a safety at the Owls' goalline. That forced Citrus into a punt from the 1. Castro managed to get his punt to midfield but Smith returned it 19 yards and then a personal foul penalty on Citrus gave the Lancers great field position. Wentz scored on the next play. 

PCC wide receiver Ivan Ostry led the team in receiving with six catches for 80 yards and he added 32 yards in three carries. Smith added 67 yards in three receptions. Edward Norton rushed for 33 yards in five carries. 

The PCC defense was paced by Raigosa, who made five tackles to go with his two interceptions, while freshman defensive end Carlos Ramirez was a beast on the pass rush, twice knocking down Arena passes, making six tackles and forcing a fumble. Linebacker Lucio Rodriguez totaled a team-high seven tackles, Mark Anderson III had five tackles and a pass break-up, and Loretto made two quarterback hurries. 

Next week, PCC hosts College of the Desert (1-2) in the teams' SCFA American Division Mountain League opener. It's a 6 p.m. kickoff at Robinson Stadium. Desert's scheduled game v. Glendale on Saturday was postponed due to COVID-19-related issue.

Spectactors are currently not allowed into Robinson Stadium per Pasadena Area Community College District policy. Lancers home games are being live streamed at a new provider--SoCal College Sports--and can be accessed at the following site: SoCal College Sports Link

PCC GRID NOTES: PCC evened the all-time series with Citrus at 4-4, winning for the first time v. the Owls since 1972...The Lancers efficiency on third down situations continued as they converted 5-for-12 (42 percent) while defending at a great rate as the Owls only converted 1-for-10. PCC has a 47 percent efficiency for the season..Tucker's record as a community college head coach is 33-4, a remarkable .892 winning percentage...In like opponents, PCC's next opponent Desert has a 44-21 win over LA Valley (Lancers won 58-30) but also a 62-32 loss to Citrus...Pasadena is averaging 43.7 points a game during its winning streak...The Lancers offense is #5 in the SCFA in total yards per game (387) and fourth in first downs...PCC is 4-1 in its brief history v. COD, including a 22-13 win over the Roadrunners in the 2019 season opener...Wentz is eighth in passing in the SCFA (848 yards), but he is also the team's rushing yards leader with 184. He has been a part of 10 touchdowns, seven passing, three rushing.