An amazing second-half comeback by the Long Beach City College football team ended in an amazingly disappointing loss to El Camino College on Saturday.
LBCC freshman quarterback Kenny Potter (San Pedro HS) had just led the Vikings to an 11-play, 63-yard drive that ended with him running in from three yards out to tie the game at 33-33 with just under two minutes remaining. The extra point PAT kick was all that stood between the Vikings and a likely come-from-behind win over the rival Warriors and bringing home the War Ax perpetual trophy.
But for the second time this season, LBCC had a potential game-winning kick blocked. This time it was El Camino's Taj Mathis who deflected Matt Mengel's (Pacific Lutheran HS) kick, scooped it up at around the 10-yard line, and ran it all the way back for a two-point defensive PAT return to give the Warriors a 35-33 National Division Central Conference win in an offensive show put on by both teams at Veterans Memorial Stadium .
The two squads combined for 1,140 yards of offense on the night with El Camino (3-1, 1-0 NCC) edging LBCC 585-555 in the final stats. Neither defense could stop Potter and ECC quarterback Cole Webb (15 for 28, 299 yards, 1 INT, 2 TD; 11 rush, 85 yards, 2 TD), as they both had big nights to lead their teams.
Potter threw for 332 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions on an efficient 16 of 19 passing for the Vikings. He also ran for 98 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries, including a big 60-yard TD run that gave the Vikings an early 7-0 lead at the 12:13 mark in the first.
Freshman wide receiver De'Quan Hampton (Dominguez HS) caught both TD passes from Potter, as they connected on for a 49-yard score in the third and a 39-yard strike at the 11:32 mark in the fourth that got the Vikings within three points at 30-27. Hampton had his second straight 100-yard receiving game as he caught five passes for 142 yards.
On El Camino's ensuing drive, the LBCC defense held the Warriors to just a 40-yard field goal by Eddie Garcia to give them a six-point advantage.
After the teams exchanged possessions, Potter and the Vikings took over from their own 37-yard line to start the potential game-winning drive. A couple of big plays kept the drive alive as LBCC got a clutch 15-yard reception from sophomore Mikail Parr (Serra HS) on 4th and 4 to put the ball on the ECC 31-yard line.
Potter was sacked by El Camino's Terrance Haynes and Kristopher Bass to bring up 3rd and 14 from the ECC 35. But he followed that with a 29-yard pass to freshman Clayton Granch (Valley Christian HS) to get to the El Camino six-yard line. Two plays later, Potter dove in from three yards out to tie the score.
But Peabody and the Vikings' sideline could only watch in disbelief as Mathis ran back the blocked kick on the next play.
"To have a PAT blocked and run back, it's unbelievable," Peabody said.
Instead of being 3-1, the Vikings are 1-3 as well as 0-1 in Central Conference play as they head to nationally-ranked Riverside City College next Saturday (Oct 5) for a 1 p.m. conference game.
Photo by Tracey Roman/for the Press-Telegram