LANCASTER - That winning feeling that took three years to cultivate lasted all but one week for the Glendale Community College football team.
The visiting Vaqueros entered Saturday evening’s American Division Pacific Conference season-opener with their first winning record since 2009 but struggled all night to find a rhythm offensively in falling, 24-12.
With the defeat, Glendale dropped back to .500 at 2-2, while Antelope Valley improved to 3-0.
“We’re a young team and what I’d like to see from us on a weekly basis is improvement,” Glendale Coach John Rome said. “We did some good things against a good team, maybe the best in conference, but we still have things to get better at.”
Glendale’s best chance at sustaining some positive momentum came early in the second half, with the Vaqueros trailing, 14-0.
The Vaqueros hung tough because of their defense, which forced a crucial turnover on downs on an incomplete pass on a fourth and six on the Glendale 21 at the nine-minute mark in the third quarter.
Now with the ball, Glendale moved 79 yards on eight plays on a drive that picked up four first downs and was capped on a 15-yard touchdown run from Collin Keoshian with 5:33 left in the third.
The rushing touchdown, the first ground score the Marauders allowed this season, brought Glendale within 14-6 after a botched extra-point attempt.
Yet, Glendale’s good vibrations ended quickly when Antelope Valley launched its own six-play, 54-yard drive highlighted by a 12-yard touchdown run from Jhaston Faggans.
The score came with 3:33 left in the third and put the hosts up, 21-6.
Glendale attempted to respond when it drove to the Marauders’ 22 early in the fourth, but saw its hopes dashed on an interception and 45-yard return from defensive back Cory Witt.
The picked translated into three points at the 12:20 mark after a 29-yard field goal from Keoki Kaiahua put the Marauders up, 24-6.
Glendale did make one final stand to half its deficit to 24-12 on a four-yard touchdown run from Walter Moctezuma with 7:37 left, but had another issue on an extra point that hit the uprights.
After the score, the Vaqueros had two final possessions on offense, but did not cross the Marauders’ 40.
“We’ve made a lot of improvements since the first game, but Antelope Valley is a tough team,” said Keoshian, who finished with 111 yards on 29 carries. “I thought we beat ourselves with our mistakes.”
While Glendale had its moments throughout the first half, ultimately the Vaqueros trailed, 14-0, at the break.
Glendale’s biggest play may have come when sophomore defensive back Matt Lopez strip-sacked Marauders quarterback Derrick Dison on Antelope Valley’s second drive.
The fumble was recovered by freshman Scott Stochl at the Marauders’ 42 at the 11:11 mark in the first.
With a short field, the Vaqueros picked up two first downs in reaching the 24, but then lost 10 yards over their next three plays and punted.
The stall typified a Vaqueros’ offense that tied Antelope Valley with nine first downs, but only picked up 85 yards on 37 plays, while being stifled by six penalties for 40 yards.
After a scoreless first quarter, Antelope Valley finally broke through on a 20-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Edwin Westlund to Curtis Anderson III at the 11:23 mark in the second.
Antelope Valley then capped its first-half scoring with a 10-yard scamper from Zikerious Ware off tackle right with 4:23 remaining.
Vaqueros quarterback Nick Blackmon finished his evening completing 18 of 29 passes for 189 yards and two interceptions, while D’Angelo Blake hauled in five catches for 65 yards.
Linebacker Dominic Bell led the Vaqueros with 11 tackles, while Lopez finished with a 1 1/2 sacks.