The Santa Barbara City College Vaqueros put their best foot forward for a bowl bid Friday night with an impressive 49-19 beating of Orange Coast College in front of a happy crowd at La Playa Stadium.
The Vaqueros finish the regular season at 7-3, winning the last three games, and the last two with a combined 101-26 point margin. Sunday morning they’ll find out their fate for next Saturday.
SBCC paid tribute to longtime sports information specialist Dave Loveton before the game. Dave passed away in April after a long battle with cancer. His friend and sports writing colleague Barry Punzal along with his wife Sheila and his daughter Kami and granddaughter Coco represented Dave as the Vaqueros’ honorary captains.
SBCC exploded for 28 points in the fourth quarter, including three special teams TDs within a span of 4:42.
Wide receiver Marcus Bellon scored two of those, an 84-yard punt return with 14:09 left and a 90-yard kickoff return just over three minutes later.
And it was Bellon who first put the Vaqueros on the scoreboard with an 18-yard pass from quarterback Alex Johnson with 10:53 left in the second quarter.
Six minutes later, Johnson added a 20-yard TD strike to freshman receiver Keyon Grayer to make the score 14-0 after Jorge Figueroa’s extra point. Johnson continued to air it out on the next Vaquero drive, with passes to Bellon for 25 yards and Chase Wells for 38, setting up a seven-yard touchdown run by Omari Taylor. That put SBCC up 21-0 at the half.
Johnson, who has blossomed for SBCC from mid-season on, finished the game completing 15 of 26 passes for 261 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He has 12 touchdown passes and 1,251 passing yards for the season.
The Pirates got on the board in the third with a rushing touchdown from J.P. Segura-Queijeiro, the quarter’s only scoring. That set up a 28-13 scoring bonanza in the fourth.
That started when Bellon took a punt on the run at the 14-yard line, cut to the sideline, got some key blocks and turned on the jets to the end zone. Figueroa, perfect on extra points for the night, made the score 28-6.
Orange Coast answered with a drive culminating in a four-yard rushing score from Colin Gregg with 10:44 left to get within 28-13.
Any hint of momentum for Orange Coast was immediately quashed by Bellon’s ensuing kickoff return of 90 yards for a 35-13 lead, his 10th touchdown of the season.
With 9:27 left, Jamari Cannon added a 44 yard punt return for a score. SBCC finished the scoring with a nine-yard TD pass from Johnson to Wells with 2:44 left.
The Pirates’ Brandon Cannella was the losing quarterback despite 408 passing yards on 22 completions in 49 attempts. Key SBCC defensive stops ensured Orange Coast didn’t have more points to show for that effort.
Receiver Wells ended with five catches for 86 yards, and Bellon four catches for 51. Vaquero running back Jerry Martin had a fine night on the ground, gaining 91 yards on just 10 carries.