Vaqueros catch Hancock from behind, 21-20

SBCC Football

SBCC’s Riccardo Washington goes for an interception on a pass intended for Hancock’s Malik Williams. (Presidio Sports Photo)

Marvin Millett rushed for 102 yards in the second half on Saturday, including the go-ahead touchdown that lifted SBCC to a 21-20 victory over No. 22 Hancock in its football home opener before 1,543 at La Playa Stadium.

“We had a lot of penalties in the first half but we stuck with it,” said Millett, a sophomore running back from St. Louis, Mo. “After that great punt to the 1, our defense did a good job of holding them.”

Joel Whitford, a 6-3 freshman from Australia, punted seven times for a 40.4 average. He got the Vaqueros out of a hole at their own 7 with a 55-yard punt midway through the final period. With a minute to play, Whitford punted from the Hancock 35 and Jason Matthew-Sharsh downed it at the 1.

On second down, Bulldog QB Matt Albright found Dy’Kari Hickey open up the left sideline but he couldn’t hang onto the ball at the 35. Hancock completed a 32-yard pass to Malik Williams but couldn’t advance any further and the Vaqueros secured their first win of the year.

Millett gained 109 yards on 12 carries for a 9.1-yard average. The Vaqueros (1-1) converted 50 percent of their third downs (9-18) and held the Bulldogs to 8.3 percent (1-12).

The Vaqueros debuted a new Video Scoreboard and beat their county rival Hancock for the third straight year.

Sophomore quarterback Brandon Edwards completed 21-of-37 passes for 189 yards and a TD in his first start of the year. Elijah King caught eight passes for 83 yards.

“The biggest thing was we never gave up,” said coach Craig Moropoulos. “We came back after Elijah’s fumble, then we got a bad snap that we recovered. I told Joel to kick it inside the 10 on that last punt and it was very Mitch-like.”

Moropoulos was referring to last year’s All-State punter Mitch Wishnowsky, who’s also from Australia and is going to play for the University of Utah next year.

“I told the guys ‘Let’s play this game like the second half of last week,’ “ said Moropoulos, whose team rallied from a 35-7 hole at San Bernardino Valley before dropping the season opener, 45-34. “We only lost one fumble today and didn’t have an interception.

The Bulldogs took a 7-0 lead on a 3-yard run by Bakari Davis that capped an 80-yard drive to open the game. Jose Morales booted a 27-yard field goal with 10:53 to go in the second quarter. The Vaqueros made it 10-7 at the half with an 11-play, 62-yard march capped by a 4-yard Brandon Edwards to Elijah Cunningham pass with 56 seconds left.

Santa Barbara opened the third quarter with 13-play, 73-yard drive that led to an 8-yard scoring run by Chad Woolsey. That gave the Vaqueros their first lead at 14-10. Hancock responded with a 59-yard march and regained the lead 17-14 on a 1-yard plunge by Michael Jordano.

Samuel Morse led the defense with 11 tackles and Bryson Parker added nine. Parker intercepted a tipped pass late in the third period to set up the Vaqueros at the Bulldogs’ 28-yard line.

Seven plays later, Millett broke through for a 4-yard TD run to put the home team ahead 21-17. Hancock benefitted from two personal fouls on SBCC on its next drive, but stalled at the 9, leading to another 27-yard field goal by Morales that cut the deficit to one.

SBCC will host East Los Angeles in its final nonconference game on Saturday at 1 p.m.