Glendale jumps on SBCC early, wins battle of Vaqueros

Glendale came out strong on Saturday afternoon, scoring touchdowns on its first three possessions, and built a 30-7 halftime lead on the way to a 47-14 triumph over SBCC in the regular-season football finale at La Playa Stadium.

The teams, who share the nickname Vaqueros, were battling for second place in the American Pacific League and a bowl berth next Saturday. Glendale (9-1, 6-1) is expected to receive the bowl invitation after forcing five turnovers and winning the yardage duel, 429 to 242.

Glendale is No. 1 in the state in scoring defense (13.9 per game) and turnover ratio (plus 25). SBCC’s defense was ranked No. 13 (23.6) and its turnover ratio was minus 1.

Santa Barbara (7-3, 5-2) turned it over five times for the second straight week with three fumbles and two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns in a span of 3:13. Chris Riley’s 17-yard pick six on the third play of the third quarter stretched the lead to 37-7.

“We lost a lot of players in the Santa Monica game (to injury) and that made it tough on our defense,” said sophomore cornerback Jacob Girgle, who made a season-high 17 tackles (8 solo) in his final game for the Vaqueros. “We had some people fill in and I don’t think we were mentally or physically ready for this game.

“Give credit to Glendale, they pounded us out and we were on our heels. Defensively, we kind of got it together at the end but it just wasn’t enough. They’re a high-powered offense that likes to go, go, go. They have some big boys who like to ground and pound.”

Glendale drove 87, 38 and 93 yards on its first three possessions, leading to three short TD runs. Alex Riley blocked the third PAT try, leaving the visiting Vaqueros with a 20-0 lead five plays into the second quarter.

After a 32-yard field goal by Oscar Reynoso, SBCC drove 83 yards in nine plays, capped by a 32-yard pass from Brandon Edwards to Elijah King on a crossing route. Three plays later, Khaliel Ahmed Shegog pounced on a pass that was ruled a lateral and returned it to the Glendale 44.

A TD would have cut the deficit to nine points. Instead, Edwards had a first-down pass picked off by Kev’n Farmer and returned 63 yards up the left sideline for a touchdown. That stretched the lead to 30-7 with 1:42 left in the first half.

Edwards completed 6-of-11 passes for 77 yards with 1 TD and two interceptions. Kyle Gasner, a left-handed freshman, played most of the second half at QB and also completed 6-11 for 58 yards and a 17-yard TD to Royce Finley.

“Glendale deserved to win, they converted on our turnovers into points,” said SBCC coach Craig Moropoulos. “We got behind and that changes how you handle things. That was unfortunate because we just weren’t up to the task.

“We got out of our game. Anytime you throw two picks for touchdowns, it really sets you back. They’re a good football team with only one loss to Santa Monica.”

Glendale starting quarterback Sean Murphy completed 13-of-15 passes for 140 yards. The visitors racked up 228 rushing yards and four TDs on the ground.

“We had a few guys out with injuries but that’s part of the game,” said Moropoulos. “I’m very proud of our guys. It’s unfortunate the way things ended but we had a chance to play for a bowl game and we went 7-3. That’s a pretty darn good season.

“Our guys played hard all year long and we’re going to build on that.”

Linebacker Jake Pettit had 14 tackles, including five solo, in his final game for SBCC.

“This one’s tough to swallow and I wish we could have them again and do a few things differently,” said Girgle, who says he’s being recruited by New Mexico, Hawaii and Minnesota. “We went 7-3 and this was a great team that won seven straight games. I had a bad experience at another junior college and Coach (Craig) Moropoulos and Coach (Kevin) Almlie brought the fight back into me. They’re very inspirational.

“We didn’t have the biggest, strongest or fastest guys but there’s no doubt you’ll never find a team with this much heart.”