COMPTON — Glendale Community College had a successful opening to the new football season with a 27-10 road victory over El Camino College Compton College Saturday afternoon.
The Vaqueros went up, 27-0, in the first half and then held off Compton in the second half for the win, which equaled the team's entire win total for each of the past two seasons.
"It has been a while since we started out with a victory," Glendale's John Rome, who has been the head coach since 2007 and presided over consecutive 1-9 seasons the last two years, said with a smile on his face.
Mistakes in the punting game by Compton paved the way for all three of the offensive touchdowns scored by Glendale college (1-0). The Vaqueros started the game with the ball, but they could not get a first down, leading to a punt by Jess Reed. The snap back to Reed bounced along the ground, but the sophomore scooped it up, remained composed, and got the kick off. The ball ricocheted off Compton kick returner Justin Aguilar's hands and Carlos Cuadra recovered for Glendale. The Vaqueros then mounted an eight-play 53-yard drive resulting in a rushing touchdown by Collin Keoshian, who jumped over the top and plunged into the end zone from four yards out.
Compton (0-1) was held without a first down by the Glendale defense on its next two possessions. The first resulted in a successful punt, but the second did not. Cuadra broke through the protection, forcing the Tartar punter, who was near his own end zone, to pull the ball down and run, only to be tackled by Scott Plescia at the seven-yard line. After that, multiple penalties on the Vaqueros looked to spoil the excellent field position, but starting quarterback Nick Blackmon connected with Eugene Gandara for a 22-yard touchdown throw on third and goal.
"I liked our offense didn't make a lot of mistakes. From the penalty standpoint we did make a lot of mistakes, but from an execution standpoint we didn't make a lot of mistakes," Rome said. "Defensively we rallied to the ball and we tackled and that is such a good thing to see."
On the first offensive play by Compton after the Gandara score, Tartar starting quarterback Chandler Farrow was picked off by Matt Lopez, who returned the interception 35 yards for a touchdown.
"I saw the snap and I jumped on it and I had the cut because I saw the quarterback," said Lopez on what led to his second-quarter defensive touchdown.
Jacob Roper took over for Compton at quarterback after that, but his first drive stalled near midfield after Lopez knocked down a pass on third down, forcing a punt attempt. Roper, who also took over punting duty, tried to run on fourth down after a bad snap forced him to abort the kick attempt, but he fumbled and Lopez recovered the ball for Glendale at the Compton 28-yard line.
On the ensuing drive, Glendale faced fourth down and three yards to go on the Compton nine-yard line and went for it. The Vaqueros' aggressiveness paid off with a nine-yard touchdown completion from Blackmon to 17-year old freshman D'Angelo Blake.
"When they first called the play I knew it was going to go in for a touchdown," Blake said. "Once I motioned and the guy was a man-to-man I was like, 'Oh yeah, it's going to be a touchdown,' so I was able to cruise in."
The punting game finally went Compton's way near the end of the second quarter. Roper unleashed a 49-yard punt that was downed on the one-yard line. Glendale could not gain a first down, and the resulting punt gave the Tartars excellent starting field position at the Glendale 30. The Vaquero defense and multiple penalties kept Compton out of the end zone, but the home team did get on the board with a 35-yard field goal by Ivan Gomez with 2.5 seconds left before halftime, at which Glendale led, 27-3.
Glendale's pro-style offense was ineffective in the second half. After two series without a first down, Blackmon gave way to Nate Weston at quarterback. Weston, a freshman from Atlanta, ran for 15 yards on his first snap after he picked it up off the ground. However, the drive came to a halt when he was intercepted by Sheldon Nunnally.
"It is very difficult when you have quarterbacks who come from spread offenses. They don't play a pro-style. It is sometimes very difficult for them to grasp a pro-style offense," Rome said of his two freshman quarterbacks. "It's taken a while, but every game and every play they put under their belts they get better."
Compton had three drives in the third quarter, all of which got inside the Glendale 10-yard line, but which only netted seven points. The first ended with a missed field goal, the second was a turnover on downs, and the third ended with a three-yard touchdown run by Fredrick Johnson.
Compton's final drive of the contest saw Vaquero Davion Holloway's interception of Roper nullified by a penalty for roughing the passer, allowing the Tartars to continue with the ball. However, several plays later Holloway made an acrobatic one-handed interception of Roper on the three-yard line ending the Compton scoring threat.
"We just want to grow and get better every day," Rome, whose team plays San Bernardino Valley College at home next Saturday, said.