Football: Turnovers and late penalty costs Falcons in 21-20 loss

Latrell Stearns posted a career-high 19 tackles
Latrell Stearns posted a career-high 19 tackles

With the Central Division title on the line, the Cerritos College football team saw turnovers and penalties prevent them from the championship in a 21-20 loss against visiting El Camino College on Saturday night. A win over the Warriors (8-2, 5-0), coupled with a loss by Palomar College (6-4, 3-2) against San Diego Mesa College would have given the Falcons (6-4, 3-2) a share of the title and berth in the Southern California Regional Playoffs. But with the loss, Cerritos is now one of seven schools in the National Conference with a 6-4 record looking for a post-season bowl bid. Those announcements will come on Sunday morning.

Leading 20-7 heading into the fourth quarter, Cerritos saw the Warriors score a pair of touchdowns, the final one with 1:36 left on the clock to come away with the win. Early in the fourth quarter, sophomore quarterback Isaiah Bravo (West Covina HS) was picked off at his own 36-yard line by Quinn Perry, who raced down the sideline for a touchdown. 

After a Leonard Artz (Warren HS/Long Beach CC) punt pinned El Camino at their own six-yard line, the Falcon defense saw the Warriors go on a 20-play, 94-yard drive that resulted in the eventual game-winning touchdown. On the drive, El Camino converted both a third-and-nine and third-and-11 situation. Facing a fourth-and-10 at the Cerritos 23-yard line, sophomore cornerback Robert Corner (Buena Park HS) was called for defensive holding, which resulted in an automatic first down for the Warriors. A fourth-and-one was converted later in the series before Sean Davenport found the end zone from a yard out for a touchdown. The extra point by Omar Beltran made it a 21-20 game. Back in the third quarter, Arzt had an extra point blocked.

In the first quarter alone, the Falcons lost a pair of fumbles, Bravo was intercepted and Arzt had a punt blocked. But Cerritos still led, 7-0 after sophomore running back Rhamondre Stevenson (Centennial, NV HS) set up the first touchdown with a 70-yard run from the Falcon six-yard line. The drive culminated with sophomore David Walker (Cheyenne, NV HS) scoring from three yards out. Stevenson, who missed parts of the game while fighting the effects of the flu, still finished with 175 yards on 19 carries and concluded the regular season with a state-leading 1,881 yards.

Bravo (11-for-24, 296 yards) gave Cerritos a 14-0 lead in the second quarter when he dropped a long bomb into the hands of a streaking Jamal Tate (Victor Valley HS/Victor Valley College), who ended up racing 94 yards for a touchdown. The Falcons other touchdown came from 13 yards out to freshman Jovohn Tucker (St. John Bosco HS) late in the third quarter.

Cerritos had five of their drives end on turnovers, including the final one of the game, as Bravo was picked off. On three of those turnovers, the Falcons were in Warrior territory, which explains while they amassed 230 more yards than El Camino (524-294), although the Warriors ran off 19 more plays.

Helping the Falcons keep the El Camino offense in check was sophomore linebacker Latrell Stearns (Gahr HS) , who posted a career-high 19 tackles, while Tishawn Barnaby (Centennial, NV HS) finished with 13 stops. Playing his best game of the season, freshman defensive lineman Ikenna Ahumibe (Gahr HS) finished with 10 tackles and a quarterback sack, with sophomore defensive end Jordan Thomas (Norwalk HS) amassing nine tackles, with two of them for loss.

Photos by Daryl Peterson