GCC's Walter Moctezuma is tackled during a loss to L.A. Pierce in the final game of the season.

GCC's Walter Moctezuma is tackled during a loss to L.A. Pierce in the final game of the season. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer / November 14, 2012)

NORTHEAST GLENDALE — In its final game of the season, still looking for its first win at home, on paper Glendale Community College looked to be greatly outmatched by fellow American Conference Pacific Division member Los Angeles Pierce, ranked 18th in Southern California in the latest California Community College Regional State Football poll.

However, on the turf of Sartoris Field, the Vaqueros, behind a gigantic effort by running back Collin Keoshian, hung right with the Brahmas, closing within a touchdown before coming up short and falling, 26-22, for their seventh straight defeat.

“Our team was a completely different team than all year,” Keoshian said. “We all came out hard. We all came out wanting to win. There is nothing much to say, we all left it on the field.”

Trailing by 10 points early in the fourth quarter, Keoshian took a direct snap out of the Wildcat formation on third down needing two yards to get the first, but instead rumbled 54 yards down the right side of the field for his third touchdown of the game. His pass for the two-point conversion was no good and Glendale (2-8, 0-7) closed to within four.

“We all came together and knew it was our last game, so we wanted to fight hard at the very end,” Keoshian said.

Vaqueros sophomore Scott Plescia then intercepted Pierce quarterback Nick Arbuckle, the top passer in the conference coming in, to give Glendale a shot at taking the lead.

On the ensuing possession, Keoshian converted a third down and 15 yards to go at the Glendale eight with a 19-yard rush. Later in the drive, the Vaqueros faced a fourth and one at the Pierce 16-yard line, but a false start pushed them back to the 21. That put the home team in a passing situation and quarterback Nick Blackmon, in for starter Ki Bae, who left in the first quarter with a concussion, saw his throw go way off target, handing the ball back to Pierce. But the Glendale defense hung tough, forcing a punt and giving the Vaqueros one last chance with 3:14 left starting at the Brahma 49-yard line, but four plays later and four yards back, Blackmon’s fourth-down throw was woefully overthrown and Pierce would escape with the win.

“We’ve always tried to fight,” Glendale Coach John Rome said. “We’ve had a lot of injuries and such, but today they came out and played very hard. I’m very proud of them.”

Keoshian led, and sometimes dragged along, the Glendale offense throughout the game while the sophomore moved up the Vaqueros all-time single-season rushing leader board. He started the game in 12th, by the end of the first quarter was up to 10th, at half had made it to ninth and on that 54-yard touchdown run in the fourth jumped three spots to sixth.

With the 19-yard run later in that quarter, he passed the 1981 season of Ron Gilner for fifth all-time and finished in that spot with 1,265 yards for the season. In Saturday’s game, Keoshian racked up 193 yards on 38 carries, tying himself for the school record in the latter category. He also holds the single-game record for rushing yardage with 336 yards set on Sept. 15 against San Diego Mesa. In Saturday’s matinee, Keoshian accounted for 20 of his team’s 22 points scored thanks to his two rushing touchdowns, one receiving and one two-point conversion gained on the ground.

Glendale is Keoshian’s third stop since high school in Santa Clarita, where he played eight-man football. At his first two, Brigham Young and College of the Canyons, he was seen as linebacker and not a running back, but after his record-setting season as a Vaquero, that looks like it might change.

“I see [Keoshian] getting better and better and better as a running back. He didn’t play running back at BYU or College of the Canyons and he played eight-man football, so he’s growing as he goes. To watch his improvement week in and week out has really been a pleasure to me,” Rome said.

Keoshian is yet to decide the next stop on his football odyssey as he weighs his options.

“I have offers on the table, so I’ve got to go and see what happens and see who else offers me. It’ll be a fun ride,” Keoshian said.

In the first half, the Glendale defense forced two turnovers while Keoshian led the offense in keeping the Vaqueros in the game, trailing just 20-16 at half.

Pierce led, 7-0, after one quarter when early in the second, Vaquero Davion Holloway creamed a Brahma receiver as the ball arrived, popping it up into the air and allowing Jason Barfield to intercept the pass, setting up the home team at the Pierce 12-yard line.

Two rushing plays later, both by Keoshian, the sophomore ran for his 10th rushing touchdown of the season from five yards out and then took the snap out of the Wildcat formation and ran successfully for the two-point conversion and an 8-7 lead.

In the second quarter, trailing, 14-8, Keoshian caught a short pass from Blackmon and rumbled the rest of the way, picking up speed for a 42-yard touchdown. Keoshian then took the snap, once again out of the Wildcat, on the conversion attempt and handed the ball to Eugene Gandera for two more points and a 16-14 advantage. That advantage was short-lived as the Brahmas answered 61 seconds later with a 39-yard pass from Arbuckle to Adam Schechter. Schechter finished with six grabs for 133 yards and two scores. Arbuckle finished 22 of 35 for 401 yards, four touchdowns and the two interceptions.

With the season over, Rome looks forward to next year, when his squad will be less reliant on freshmen and will have returning players with experience in the program.

“We feel that our best is yet to come,” Rome concluded.