Santa Barbara City College star sophomore running back Brandon Smith exploded for a career-high 260 yards on 33 carries and two touchdowns to lead the Vaqueros to a 30-14 win at Glendale Community College Saturday evening.
The win is SBCC’s fourth in a row and raises the team to 4-1 on the season.
Smith “ran physical, he ran far, he ran outside and inside, he just did a great job tonight,” SBCC coach Craig Moropoulos said.
And Moropoulos was quick to praise the overall team play, in all three phases of the game — offense, defense and special teams.
“I told the team after the game, I was as proud of this effort as a team as I’ve been in 17 years coaching here,” Moropoulos said. “Glendale’s a very good team. And I challenged these guys: we’re going on the road, we’re playing a solid team. And they rose to the occasion.
“So I’m extremely, extremely proud of them. All three phases.”
Quarterback Alex Johnson had an efficient outing, completing 10 of 16 passes for 94 yards with no interceptions and he rushed for two touchdowns. He also led a masterful 91-yard fourth-quarter drive that took 10 minutes off the clock and resulted in a Smith 9-yard score to make it 30-14 with 3:31 left.
And the offensive line dominated and was key in a 356-yard team rushing night.
“It all starts with them,” Moropoulos said. “If we have success, especially running the football, it starts with the offensive line. And they did a great job tonight.”
The two teams, both called Vaqueros, offset each other to a scoreless tie until midway through the second quarter.
That was broken when a bad shotgun snap shot by Glendale quarterback Nicholas Garcia and tumbled into the end zone. Garcia had no choice but to smother the ball there before quickly advancing SBCC defenders could do the same. The safety made it 2-0 SBCC.
On the ensuing free kick, SBCC returner Jamari Cannon — back from an injury sustained in the season’s first game — returned the ball 21 yards. From the SB 43 yard line, SBCC drove 57 yards in seven plays, ending with a 9-yard score by Smith. Joe Bowman’s extra point made it 9-0.
But the Vaqueros from Glendale answered, putting together a 75-yard drive that ended with a QB sneak from Garcia.
The slim 9-7 SBCC lead held until halftime. The Vaqueros of the north widened the lead to 23-7 with third-quarter touchdowns by Johnson, on sneaks of 1 and 3 yards.
The Vaqueros from the south weren’t done. A minute into the fourth quarter, they finished a six-play, 59-yard drive with a TD pass from Garcia to Jahrique Lowe to make the score 23-14.
Then, starting at its own 9 due to a return penalty, SBCC put together a 15-play, 91-yard drive that ate 10:16 from the clock when Smith scored from nine yards out with 3:31 left.
The Bowman EP — he remains perfect on those for the season — resulted in the final score of 30-14.
“We could have let them in after they scored on that drive,” Moropoulos said. “And we came right back. Had a couple of setbacks, had a couple of penalties, but we got through it and moved right down the field.
“That makes you proud as a coach when you see guys respond like that.”
Moropoulos spread the praise around. That included the line play of freshman tight end Elian Sundquist, the leadership and play of Johnson, and more.
Running back Mekhi Norfleet added 59 rushing yards on nine carries, and Johnson had 46 on eight carries. Receiver Jackson Meehan caught three passes for 27 yards on that last long drive.
Smith’s prodigous rushing efforts included a 52-yard burst up the middle during the second of the third-quarter scoring drives, and a bullish 1-yard gain on 4th and 1 that kept the first third-quarter drive going. Smith now has 654 yards and seven touchdowns in five games, on 89 carries for a 7.3 average.
“Just really an overall good win for us,” Moropoulos said.
The Vaqueros head into a bye week and begin American Pacific League play on October 15, hosting L.A. Pierce at La Playa Stadium.
Saturday’s win and the break “couldn’t come at a better time. We need to make sure we heal up a bit and get ready for conference. It was a very successful non-conference schedule for us.”