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Saturday, February 23 , 2019, 3:54 am | Fair 39º

Sports: A Noozhawk Partnership with Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table, The Lab, and American Riviera Bank

SBCC Can’t Slow Down L.A. Valley in 47-35 Loss

Cedric Cooper of SBCC plows into the end zone on a 3-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Click to view larger
Cedric Cooper of SBCC plows into the end zone on a 3-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

L.A. Valley’s speed on both sides of the ball, its success on special teams and big-play ability were too much for a banged-up SBCC to handle, as the Monarchs defeated the Vaqueros, 47-35, at La Playa Stadium to win the American Pacific League football title and finish the regular season unbeaten.

L.A. Valley improves to 10-0 and will play for the Southern Cal Pacific Division championship next Saturday. SBCC hopes its 7-3 record is good enough to receive an invitation to a bowl game. The bowl lineup will be announced on Sunday.

“The big thing is seven wins is not looking too bad,” said Moropoulos.

Valley’s speed in its rushing attack and on defense made it a tough afternoon for the Vaqueros.  Monarch running backs Darian Albrecht and Trevor Laurent each rushed for more than 100 yards. Albrecht gained 179 on 10 carries and had touchdown runs of 74 and 57 yards. Laurent broke loose on a 59-yard scoring dash en route to 117 yards on 14 rushes. The Monarchs totaled 303 yards on the ground and held SBCC to 79.

The speedy Valley defense swarmed SBCC ball carriers most of the afternoon. Running back Manny Nwosu was knocked out of the game with a shoulder injury in the first half. The Vaqueros also lost receiver Jason-Matthew Sharsh (ankle) in the first half and quarterback Noah Holle (shoulder) in the fourth quarter. Cedric Cooper was the leading rusher with 50 yards on 16 carries.

“They did a good job against our run game,” Moropoulos said. “I was surprised by that. Again, they’re 10-0 for a reason. We just didn’t put together enough and we didn’t play sound enough in the run game and run defense.”

But the Vaqueros were in the game. After Albrecht broke off left tackle and left SBCC defenders in his wake on a 74-yard TD jaunt, Holle led a 51-yard drive and capped it with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Eli Cunningham to tie the score at 7-7 with 3:42 left in the first quarter.

The score remained tied until Valley blocked a SBCC punt and converted it into a touchdown. Shonte Smith scored on a 1-yard run. The PAT failed because of bad snap, leaving the Monarchs with a 13-7 lead.

The Valley special teams delivered again, this time on a fake field goal. Lined up for a 40-yard attempt, quarterback Christian Jorgensen took the snap and fired 23-yard pass to Chris Phillips. A 2-point conversion pass failed, and the Monarchs led 19-7 with 1:15 to go in the second quarter.

“We knew special teams was going to play a part,” said Moropoulos.

Then came a back-breaking play for SBCC. With time running out in the half, Holle threw a pass that was picked off by defensive back Donzale Roddie and he returned it 69 yards for a touchdown and a commanding 26-7 lead.

L.A. Valley’s Darian Albrecht outruns three SBCC defenders on his way to the end zone. Click to view larger
L.A. Valley’s Darian Albrecht outruns three SBCC defenders on his way to the end zone. (JC Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

“He just forced it,” Moropoulos said. “Some times a quarterback makes mistakes like that. He’s trying to make something happen and he forced it and they had a robber sitting there. You just got to know when it doesn’t look comfortable, it’s better to eat the ball than just force the ball.”

SBCC went three and out on its first possession of the second half, but linebacker Thomas Lash provided a spark with an interception of a Jorgensen pass. The Vaqueros capitalized on the turnover, with Cedric Cooper scoring on a 3-yard run to make it a 26-14 game.

The momentum was short lived. On the ensuing kickoff, Ahkil Crumpton, another Valley speedster, took it 86 yards for a touchdown, increasing the Monarchs lead to 32-14 with 10:08 left in the third quarter.

“A blocked punt, a kick return for touchdown and a pick-6 right before half, those are three monumental changes,” said Moropoulos. “And, we gave up some big run. But, that being said, we never gave up. We kept coming back.”

SBCC regrouped and Holle drove the team 80 yards in 11 plays, finishing the drive with a 9-yard TD pass to Cooper with 34 seconds remaining in the third quarter. That made it 33-21.

But L.A. Valley wasn’t done. Albrecht again broke off tackle and outran defenders on a 57-yard score at the start of the fourth quarter. Later, Laurent bolted into the open field on a 59-yard touchdown.

Holle threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Abel Gonzalez before he left the game with a shoulder injury.

Tim Milliken led a 72-yard drive and hit Jacob Ortale on a 9-yard TD strike for SBCC’s final score.

Despite the loss, SBCC finished second in the APL, its highest finish in conference play in 25 years.

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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