King is quite a catch in SBCC comeback win at Hancock

Wide receiver Elijah King caught 14 passes, including the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, and SBCC battled back to beat Hancock, 33-27, in a non conference football game Saturday at Righetti High’s Warrior Stadium.

It was the Vaqueros’ second straight victory over their county rivals. They scored 10 points in the final 5:21 to erase a  27-23 deficit.

“You know what? This is a more satisfying win than last year,” said SBCC coach Craig Moropoulos. “This was a complete win. It wasn’t just Jarred Evans running the ball and they fumbled at the end to give us the opportunity to win. This time we were in a dogfight and they knew it. We had drives of 14, 17 and 13 plays and scored on two of those.”

Elijah King caught 14 passes for SBCC in the win over Hancock.

Elijah King caught 14 passes for 137 yards in SBCC in the win over Hancock.

King made a leaping grab between two defenders on  a 12-yard Brandon Edwards pass to put the Vaqueros in the lead, 30-27, with 5:21 left in the game. The total yardage on King’s catches was 137 yards.

“Coach had a game plan all week: who to key on and what it takes to win and we just followed it,” said the 6-3 King, who was one catch short of the SBCC single-game record held by Jason Stone. “I can’t thank the guys up front enough for blocking and allowing our quarterback to find the holes in the defense.”

 “I’m extremely proud of the way we played the entire game,” said Moropoulos. “We allowed a couple big plays on defense but we had some big plays too. We had a couple of big fourth-down conversions. Elijah King did a great job tonight. He’s a playmaker.”

SBCC’s defense stopped Hancock on its next possession. The Vaqueros moved the ball to the Bulldogs’ 28,where they faced a fourth-and-12. They called on kicker Blake Levin and he delivered with a 45-yard field goal, his second of the game, to boost the lead to 33-27.

Hancock took over on its  own 24 with no timeouts left and the Vaquero defense squashed the final drive. Brandon Nicastro led the defense with 10 tackles (7 solo) and a sack. James Benedix added eight tackles. The Vaqueros also picked  off two passes.

The first interceptions led to the first score of the game.. Khaliel Ahmed Shegog picked off Hancock quarterback Curry Parham on the game’s first series and returned it 35 yards to the Bulldog 19. Three plays later, Cedric Cooper went over the left side for a 4-yard TD to make it 7-0.

Cooper added a 2-yard TD run in the second quarter to put SBCC  up 13-7. That TD was set up by a 38-yard punt return from Tyler Higby that gave the Vaqueros a first and goal at the 8.

Hancock (0-2) took a 17-13 halftime lead on a 27-yard pass from Parham to Breon Briggs and a 35-yard field goal by Jose Morales just 3.6 seconds before halftime.

Parham, a St. Joseph High School graduate, completed 12 of his 32 passes for 175 yards. He threw for three touchdowns, but was picked off twice.

The Vaqueros didn’t let down after the Bulldogs scored 10 unanswered points before the half. They jumped back on top on a spectacular play by Cameron Gamble. He picked off a pass in the right flat, did a front flip over a diving defender at the 3 at catapulted into the end zone to put SBCC ahead 20-17 with 9:29 to go in the third quarter.

The Bulldogs took a 27-23 advantage on a 60-yard scoring pass from Parham to Tristen Jeffries with 10:04 to play.

SBCC’s offense continued to move the ball behind the passing of Edwards and the running of former Santa Barbara High star Cheroke Cunningham.  Edwards completed 21 of 36 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown. He was picked off once. Cunningham rushed for 83 yards on 17 carries. Cooper added 48 yards on 15 carries.

SBCC sustained multiple scoring drives by converting 10 of its 20 third-down conversion plays. The Vaqueros were also successful on both of their attempts on fourth down.