How close was SBCC to beating Hancock in Saturday’s football opener at La Playa Stadium? Tantalizingly close.

After building a 10-0 first-quarter lead, the Vaqueros offense went stagnant and the Bulldogs rallied to post a 14-10 victory in front of a crowd of 1,650.

Trailing 14-10, SBCC took advantage of a 5-yard punt and took over on the Hancock 40 with 1:20 remaining. Quarterback Conner Rehage hit Jed Elsberry with a 6-yard pass on fourth-and-4 from the 34 and then hooked up with Austen Lott on a 21-yard toss.

That gave the home team a first-and-goal from the 7 with 17 seconds left and sent the crowd into a frenzy. With no timeouts, Rehage spiked the ball on first down. His second-down pass went through the hands of Sean Hutchinson in the end zone and his final two attempts were both high.

“Missing that week hurt Connor (he sprained his ankle three weeks ago),” said SBCC coach Craig Moropoulos. “He was off a little bit but the encouraging thing is he threw some nice balls. We should have won, we were right there.

“I told the guys at halftime that we had to do something special to win the game. We came up seven yards short.”

Rehage, a sophomore from Dos Pueblos High, completed 15-of-34 passes for 125 yards with one interception.

Hancock dominated total yardage (389-187), rushing (345-62) and first downs (20-8) en route to its 14th straight win over the Vaqueros. Diondre Bryant rushed 17 times for 123 yards.

SBCC jumped ahead 10-0 in less than seven minutes. Aeryus Holloway intercepted Hancock’s Eric Anderkavich on the second play of the game, leading to a 25-yard field goal by Jeremy Ybarra.

After Hancock punted on its next possession, Ravonte Wilkerson returned the kick 72 yards up the right sideline, giving SBCC a 10-0 lead. Hancock cut the deficit to 10-7 on a 4-yard TD reception by Chris Van Pelt with 25 seconds left in first half.

On its first possession in the third quarter, Hancock took over on the SBCC 46 following a 16-yard punt. The Bulldogs needed just four plays to score, with Anderkavich plowing in from 25 yards. He carried several defenders with him for the final 10 yards.

Justin Leverette rushed for 65 yards on 13 carries for SBCC and Wilkerson caught five passes for 27 yards. Nick Vought led the defense with 10 tackles.

“I was proud of the defense, they played hard,” said Moropoulos. “We knew we had a very inexperienced offense. We’re going to hang in there and get better. We had a couple of opportunities there at the end to win the game, but we just didn’t get it done.”

The Vaqueros travel to Canyons, ranked No. 3 in Southern California, next Saturday for a 7 p.m. game.

Dave Loveton is Santa Barbara City College‘s sports information specialist.