A wild second half saw the last momentum shift swing Long Beach City College’s way as it took the lead late and held on for a 27-20 victory over Mt. San Antonio College in its South Coast Conference opener Saturday night at Veterans Stadium.
While the first half and a good portion of the third quarter were played extremely clean in terms of turnovers, things got wild from there, beginning on a 49-yard field goal attempt by the Mounties (4-2, 0-1).
The kick came up short and was returned for 35 yards out of the end zone by Cedrick Byrd, which would have set the Vikings up with solid field position trailing by three, but a penalty on the sideline cost them 15 yards. LBCC (4-2, 1-0) lost a fumble on the ensuing first down, but came up with an interception to regain possession just two plays later.
The Vikings’ following drive would be kept alive by a roughing the kicker penalty but they couldn’t keep the chains moving from there. The defense came up huge again however, forcing a quick fumble at the Mt. SAC seven yard-line which resulted in a game-tying field goal.
The Mounties gained 28-yards on a fake punt on their next possession, but ended up missing a 42-yard field goal attempt, which LBCC would turn into a 75-yard, eventual game-winning drive capped off by a 2-yard scoring run by Marhqeze Mason with 4:59 remaining.
After allowing an opening-drive field goal, the Vikings responded with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Grant Lowary to Mike Wilson and would add another when Jabari Minix hauled in a 7-yarder from Lowary and held on in the front right corner of the end zone to give LBCC a 14-13 edge midway through the second quarter.
But with 1:23 left in the half and the Vikings pinned back in their own territory, Mt. SAC came up with a blocked punt and touchdown recovery by Gaven Hughes. Both offenses move the ball very effectively throughout the first quarter, but the defenses buckled down a bit from there and of myriad of injuries and penalties slowed the pace and production as the Mounties took a 20-14 advantage into the break.
LBCC head coach Brett Peabody was very pleased with his team’s resolve and willingness to continue to make plays despite a lack of experience within the young group.
“Honestly I saw a team that is very, very young,” he said. “We start freshman all over the place and I saw a team really come together tonight. Despite whatever adversity we had, and we had a lot of it, we stuck together, we persevered and we got a great victory over a good football team.”
Lowary finished the night with 262 yards and two touchdowns while completing 28-of-53 attempts and has now thrown for 17 scores on the season, with just six interceptions.
“We needed this one here because now we control our own destiny again,” Peabody added. “We’ve got to have the same great intensity and focus we has in practice this last week.”
LBCC returns to the field Saturday for a 6 p.m. conference tilt at Chaffey.