Football Posts Best Season Start Since 2010, Wins 4th Straight

Justen Campbell ran back a kick 89 yards for a TD in the Lancers win over Desert on Saturday at Robinson Stadium.
Justen Campbell ran back a kick 89 yards for a TD in the Lancers win over Desert on Saturday at Robinson Stadium.

They follow each other consecutively in the numerical roster and on Saturday night, #7 Kade Wentz, #8 Wheeler Smith, #9 Justen Campbell and #10 Lucio Rodriguez combined to propel the Pasadena City College football team past College of the Desert, 35-23, in the Lancers' SCFA American Mountain League opener at Robinson Stadium.

PCC won its fourth straight game to move to 4-1 while COD fell to 1-3. It's the best start to a season by a Lancers team in 11 years when the 2010 squad opened at 4-0.

Wentz passed for 264 yards (18-of-33) and four touchdowns, Smith caught seven balls for 147 yards and three TDs, Campbell reached the end zone on an electrifying 89-yard kick return, and Rodriguez was a defensive dynamo with 11 tackles, an interception and a sack. 

Robert Tucker, the head coach who performed magic in turning around two other community college programs, is doing it again at PCC. Tucker's career record at this level is 34-4, an .895 winning percentage. 

The Lancers didn't take long to open the game's scoring. Jabari Kindle returned the opening kickoff 22 yards and a personal foul penalty on COD gave PCC the ball on the 41. Wentz followed with a 34-yard strike to receiver Ivan Ostry, then a 25-yard TD aerial to a wide open Kindle. Cristian Contreras kicked the first of his five extra points for a 7-0 lead just 47 seconds into the contest.

On Desert's first offensive series, PCC linebacker Michelangelo Loretto deflected a pass by COD quarterback Dylan Seel that Rodriguez intercepted and returned five yards to the Desert 40. Wentz connected with Wheeler for a 25-yard touchdown throw and a 14-0 lead. 

After the Roadrunners cut it to 14-10 late in the first period, Campbell made a few moves and got free to take off on his long kick return for a TD. Campbell returned three kicks overall for 137 yards. It was the Lancers first kick return for a TD since 2016 when Yusef Muhammad returned a score 91 yards in a win over Compton.

Wentz found Smith again for a 22-yard touchdown as the Lancers took a 28-17 lead into halftime. Just as has been the case in the last few victories, the PCC defense then stiffened in the second half. 

PCC limited COD to 114 second-half yards and one touchdown, the only offensive 6-pointer allowed in the past three games. The secondary broke up seven passes overall, two by Roland "Kea" Rodrigues. The defensive line and linebackers made a combined six tackles behind the line of scrimmage, including sacks by Rodriguez and Carlos Ramirez. The pass rush added six quarterback hurries, two by Jessie Canizales. Rodriguez, a 5-foot-11 sophomore linebacker, was all over the field, making eight of his tackles in the second half.

While Pasadena's offense had trouble moving the chains in the second half, Smith came up with a huge play early in the fourth quarter. The sophomore hauled in a short pass from Wentz then turned on the after-burners the final 55 yards on a spectacular 68-yard TD reception. The pass play came just 41 seconds after COD's Kaleb Bryant had sliced PCC's lead to 28-23 on a 5-yard touchdown run. 

For the first time, Tucker utilized second quarterback Edward Norton exclusively at running back and the letterman responded with a team-high 60 yards in 14 carries. Ostry made six catches for 72 yards. Kindle had three receptions for 31 yards and 54 yards in two kick returns. 

The Lancers take their bye next week, then return to action on Saturday, Oct. 16 in a 3 p.m. AML game at Grossmont College. PCC returns to Robinson Stadium on Oct. 23 in a 6 p.m. game v. Compton. 

PCC GRID NOTES: Osvaldo Raigosa, a SCFA Player of the Week, made seven tackles, Kaydon Spens, also a POW earlier this year, had six tackles. Ramirez and Salah Odeh each totaled six tackles...Wentz resumed his punting duties and did well with a 36.2 yards average and three of his six kicks landing inside the 20...Smith turned in his second straight 100-yards receiving game and is sixth in the state in receiving yards with 381 in 21 receptions for an 18.1 yards per catch average. He is tied for the team lead in receptions with Ostry, but Ostry has also benefited from short shovel passes by Wentz. Smith has turned into the team's current biggest threat at WR...Wentz is ninth in the state in passing yards at 1,112 and his 11 TD throws has him tied for fifth among all CCC quarterbacks...Contreras is tied for fifth in the state in extra point makes as he is 21-for-22 on kicks...PCC could move up in the CCCSIA State Top 25 Rankings after being tied at #25 in this week's poll...The game featured a who's who on Jeopardy for memorable first names with an artistic great--Michelangelo of PCC--and a famous classical music composer--Tchaikovsky Brown, a Desert defensive back.