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SBCC Scores Stunning Comeback Victory at Hancock

Vaqueros drive 80 yards in last two minutes to beat county rival, 43-40

Noah Holle passed for 261 yards and two touchdowns in SBCC’s comeback win at Hancock. Click to view larger
Noah Holle passed for 261 yards and two touchdowns in SBCC’s comeback win at Hancock. (Noozhawk file photo)

SBCC quarterback Noah Holle said he'd never run a two-minute offense during a game in his career.

You wouldn't have believed it after the sophomore directed the Vaqueros on a game-winning touchdown drive in the final minutes with no time outs to beat county rival Hancock 43-40 in a wild American Pacific League football opener on a rainy and windy Saturday afternoon in Santa Maria.

Down 40-35 with 1:52 to play, Holle drove SBCC 80 yards, converting two fourth-down plays, and Cedric Cooper ran over right tackle from 1 yard out for the winning score. Holle then completed a 2-point conversion pass to Manny Nwosu to make it 43-40.

 “That’s the first 2-minute drive I’ve ever been a part of and it was amazing," said Holle. "That’s the best game I’ve ever played in.”

The Vaqueros rallied from a 40-21 deficit in the second half and scored their fifth straight win.

“In my 31 years of coaching, that’s the best one ever,” said 10th-year SBCC coach Craig Moropoulos of the second-half comeback. “I’ve been around some big wins but to come back from 40-21 down in the second half, that was impressive. Our guys never gave up, we fought and scrambled the whole way.”

Holle completed 22-of-41 passes for a season-high 261 yards and two TDs. Jason-Matthew Sharsh caught eight passes for 78 yards and TDs of 14 and 7 yards, and Elijah Cunningham grabbed six balls for 68 yards.

“We made a few adjustments in the second half and our defense stepped up,” said Holle. “Our receivers and running backs all made plays when they needed to and our offensive line was great. We really played as a team."

Down 40-21 with 5:59 to go in the third quarter, the Vaqueros (5-1, 1-0) scored three touchdowns and forced four straight Hancock punts.

Santa Barbara was behind 40-35 when it took over on its own 20 with 1:52 to play and no time outs. The Vaqueros got a couple of breaks on the drive as Hancock defenders dropped would-be interceptions on two plays and back-up receiver Jonathan Licea came in and made a clutch catch.

On fourth-and-10 from the Hancock 41, Holle heaved the ball toward the goal line and it was tipped by Hancock safety Thomas Leggett. Licea, who replaced an injured Sharsh, kept eyes on the ball and caught it at the 1.

“It was something else, we never gave up,” said Licea, a 6-6 freshman from Bakersfield. “I just played it all the way through. I wish my mom was here to see this. I love these guys, they’re like brothers to me.”

“Jacob Ortale and Jason-Matthew Sharsh made some good catches on that last drive but Jon’s catch was phenomenal,” said Moropoulos.

The clock ran down to 34 seconds and Cedric Cooper couldn’t punch it in. The Vaqueros quickly lined up for another try and Cooper scored over right tackle with 20 seconds to play.

“We were out of time outs and the clock was running. We just ran the same play again and Cedric got in," said Moropoulos.

On the 2-point conversion, Holle made a play-action fake before hitting Nwosu.

After going ahead 43-40, a squib kick went awry for the Vaqueros and Hancock took over on its 45. On third-and-4 from the SBCC 49, Evan Defer smacked quarterback Matt Albright as he threw and the ball fell to the turf to end the game.

The first quarter was wild with SBCC getting a 57-yard kick return from Cunningham on the opening play. The Vaqueros needed just three plays and 58 seconds to get into the end zone on a 6-yard run by Nwosu. The Vaqueros led 14-12 at the end of 15 minutes thanks to a 95-yard kickoff return by Rhomel Fields.

Cooper threw a 14-yard TD to Sharsh on a halfback option pass, putting the Vaqueros ahead 21-18 with 4:29 to go in the first half.

The Bulldogs led 26-21 at intermission and scored two touchdowns in a span of 3:10 to take a 40-21 lead on a 54-yard TD run by Shaq Autry with 5:59 to go in the third quarter.

The Bulldogs (2-4, 0-1) piled up 277 rushing yards on 50 attempts, led by Autry with 197 yards and two TDs on 26 tries. Hancock's defense held SBCC's No. 1 rushing attack to 80 rush yards on 33 attempts.

Santa Barbara bounced back with a six-play, 65-yard drive, capped by a 7-yard scoring toss from Holle to Sharsh.

The fourth quarter opened with a leaping 37-yard reception by Cunningham at the Bulldog 8-yard line. Three plays later, Holle tossed an 8-yard TD pass to Nwosu and Patrick Nasiatka’s fifth PAT kick pulled the Vaqueros within five at 40-35.

“This was a huge win for our confidence and it’s the APL opener,” said Moropoulos. “We got great contributions from a lot of players.”

Linebackers Dallas Martin and Thomas Lash led the defense with 12 and nine tackles. They both had five solos.

The Vaqueros will travel to Antelope Valley (4-2, 1-0) on Saturday for an APL game at 7 p.m.



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