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SBCC Can’t Get a Break, Suffers 17-14 Loss to L.A. Harbor

L.A. Harbor used two big breaks to rally past SBCC 17-14 on Saturday night in an American Pacific Conference football game at La Playa Stadium.

Clifton Taylor appeared to run for a first down for the Vaqueros (1-6, 0-2) on fourth-and-1 from the Harbor 20 with just under 11 minutes to play. But the referee spotted the ball at the 20 for no gain and the Vaqueros turned it over on downs.

The Seahawks (3-4, 1-1) drove 50 yards to the Vaquero 30. Quarterback Aidan Kuykendall heaved a pass into the end zone and Nakota Shepard-Creer was defending for the Vaqueros. He and the Harbor receiver leaped for the ball and Shepard-Creer tipped it behind him and it fell into the arms of Harbor's Kaelin Snead just inside the back of the end zone.

“What I’m most disappointed about is these guys didn’t get that win for themselves,” said Vaquero coach Craig Moropoulos. “They played as hard as they could play and two plays end up deciding the game.

“I did not think that fourth-and-1 was the correct call and they score a TD on a tipped pass. Our defensive back Nakota was playing with a cast on his hand and he tipped it with his cast.”

Harbor needed just three plays to score a touchdown on its opening drive. Kuykendall threw a short pass to Alexander Malik and he raced through a vacant secondary for a 47-yard score.

The Vaqueros got a 39-yard kickoff return from Patrick Dill, then drove 54 yards in eight plays to tie the game at 7. Tamir Walker ran five times for 31 yards and quarterback Franco De Luca scored the touchdown on a 4-yard run inside the right pylon.

The Vaqueros punted on their next possession and that turned into seven points when Logyn Hughes forced Redwan Sesay to fumble at his own 35. Defensive lineman Luke Krotzer scooped ball up at the 30 and returned it for a TD with a bevy of blockers, giving the Vaqueros a 14-7 lead at 2:42 of the first period.

Axel Perez booted a 45-yard field goal on the second play of the second quarter, pulling the visitors within four, 14-10.

Kuykendall completed 11-of-19 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns.

Chase Elliott, who shared the Vaquero tackle lead with Dill at seven each, intercepted a pass at midfield early in the fourth quarter and returned it seven yards to the Seahawk 43. Taylor broke off a 14-yard run and the Vaqueros went to the Harbor 20 in five plays, then had that fourth-and-1 call go against them.

The Vaqueros, who’ve already lost their top three quarterbacks and top running back to injuries, were hit by the injury bug again on their next drive. On second-and-4 from their 31, Walker ran up the middle and was tackled by Isaako Faagi, who finished with 13 tackles, including 5½ for loss.

Walker, a 5-9 freshman from Newport News, Va., was flat on his back for several minutes before an ambulance arrived to take him to the hospital. Walker, who ran for 200 yards and 112 yards in his first two starts the last two games, led all rushers with 47 yards on 11 attempts in the first 16 minutes.

On the next possession, the Vaqueros went 45 yards to the Harbor 37. On third down-and-8 from the 38, tight end Tommy Quinn left with an ankle injury.

“When Tamir and Tommy went out, that took a lot of the wind out of our sails and kind of limited some of things we can do,” said Moropoulos. “We think Tamir is going to be OK. It was really precautionary to take him to the hospital.

“We keep getting hammered with injuries and our guys keep coming back and coming back. It’s the next guy stepping up. Cliff Taylor did a nice job tonight and so did our receiver Nick Foster. Our No. 5 quarterback is really, really improving every day.”

Foster caught six passes for 97 yards with five catches coming in the second half.

SBCC drove to the Harbor 28 and Martin Ahlstroem lined up for a 45-yard field goal on the third play of the final quarter. Littleton came off the corner to block it and Harbor recovered at their 37.

The Vaqueros will travel to first-place Hancock on Saturday for a 2 p.m. game. The Bulldogs (7-1, 2-0), ranked No. 3 in the American Division, shut out Santa Monica 52-0 on Saturday. 

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