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Football: Vikings fall 43-17 to Saddleback in Southern California Championship game

Football: Vikings fall 43-17 to Saddleback in Southern California Championship game

An impressive 2015 Long Beach City College football season came to an end following the Vikings' 43-17 loss at Saddleback College in the Southern California Championship game on a cold Saturday night in Mission Viejo.

Long Beach ultimately came just two wins shy from capturing a state championship and ends the year with a 10-2 overall record, its best mark since a 10-1 1998 season.

The Vikings fell behind early and couldn't dig themselves out of the hole. Saddleback took advantage of a pair of Jack Lowary (Mater Dei HS) first-half interceptions and converted both into touchdowns. The LBCC defense also couldn't stop Saddleback quarterback Johnny Stanton. The Southern League Offensive Player of the Year opened the game a perfect 11 for 11 on passing and went on to throw three first-half touchdowns. Long Beach trailed 30-3 at the break.

The LBCC defense came alive in the second half, forcing three Saddleback turnovers. Long Beach went on to outscore Saddleback 14-13 over the final two quarters, but the lead was just too much to overcome.

Long Beach was held to a season-low 276 yards of offense, including just 179 yards passing. Lowary tossed a nine-yard touchdown to Jacob Welch (Mater Dei HS) in the third quarter for LBCC's lone score in the air. Lowary's five-yard TD run at 11:59 in the fourth got LBCC within 30-17 before the Gauchos slammed the door with two more touchdowns to close out the game.

Lowary completed 19 of 45 passes for 179 yards. Welch led LBCC with six catches for 99 yards. Darren Johnson (Cabrillo HS) ran the ball 16 times for 69 yards to lead the Vikings on the ground.

Central League Offensive Player of the Year Mike Wilson (Washington Prep HS) was held to just two catches on the night as he was constantly double-teamed by the Gauchos. His second reception, a nine-yard pick up, gave him 1,259 receiving yards to break the all-time LBCC single-season record. His 80 receptions and 16 touchdowns are also school records.

Mat Boesen (West Torrance HS) was named the Vikings' Player of the Game as he totaled five tackles, broke up two passes, and recovered a fumble. London Iakopo (Mater Dei HS) led the LBCC defense with 14 tackles and also forced a fumble.

Despite the SoCal Championship loss, it was another impressive season for third-year head coach Brett Peabody. Since inheriting a team that went 0-10 in 2012, Peabody has led the Vikings to records of 4-6, 8-2, and now 10-2. LBCC captured a Central League championship and won its second straight bowl game.