College football action returned last Saturday on September 2, 2017, when the Santa Monica Corsairs took on the West Los Angeles Wildcats at Captain Engen Field in Culver City, Calif. It was the first game of the season for the Corsairs on the road. The game opened up with West L.A. jumping in front with a 17-0 lead, on a John Riggs field goal and a 16 yard touchdown run by Markell White, who added another score from 2 yards out. The Corsairs got on board with a Nick Hutchins 30-yard touchdown pass to Trevor Nofoa, ready to make it 17-6 with 6:57 left in the half. The Wildcats responded with touchdown of their own two in a half minutes later, ending the first half with a 24-6 lead. When asked about the team's state of mind at half-time, Second-year SMC head coach, Bill Laslett, responded, "Win a quarter. You know it's the old attitude, come out and win a quarter. I'll tell you it's a special group of guys, I didn't have to say a lot."
Laslett subbed Nick Hutchins with John Martinos at quarterback for the rest of the game. The Corsairs climbed back into it at the 2:59 mark to begin the second half, when Martinos connected with Jordan Herrera on a 15-yard touchdown pass to cut into the deficit 24-14. Vitor Sambugaro kicked a 33-yard field goal to bring the Corsairs back to within a touchdown. Then at the 3:22 mark, Cristoph Hirota ran into the endzone for a 10-yard touchdown to tie the game for the Corsairs. West L.A. responded on the ensuing kickoff with an 87-yard return for a touchdown by Drevon Macon to help his team reclaim the lead 30-24 before missing an extra point, giving the Corsairs a chance to take their first lead of the game.
Then, at the 10:22 mark in the 4th quarter on 4th and Goal, the Corsairs scored on a Martinos touchdown pass to Jordan Herrera from 12-yards out, followed by a Sambugaro extra point to take a 31-30 lead. The touchdown proved to be the game winner, as the Corsairs defense prevented the Wildcats from mustering any form of offense going, and the Corsairs ran the ball for the final 5:43 of the game to complete the comeback. Martinos passed for 197 and threw 2 touchdowns, while Nick Hutchins threw for 36 yards and a touchdown, also adding 32 yards on 8 carries. Christoph Hirota and Ricky Hambright combined for a total 171 yards on the ground and a touchdown. Jordan Herrera caught 5 passes for 72 yards and 2 touchdowns. The defense accumulated 3 sacks and an interception, with linebacker Chris Wein leading the way with 12 tackles, a sack, and a crucial interception in the second half.
When asked about the turning point of the game, Coach Laslett said, "The way were rotating the football, we changed some of our routes as we were doing a lot of quick screens and stuff, and we just changed the routes to tag some things, and we were able to get behind them. Also some slants, went three by one, we were able to get some single coverage on the backside that we were looking for all game. We weren't able to execute all those, but like I said we got a lot to do, and we're gonna go over that film, and get back to Earth down on Monday because we got Palomar coming in."
The Corsairs will host Palomar College next Saturday, September 9, at 6:00 p.m. On this upcoming match up, Laslett stated, "second time in history we play them, but not with a group of guys like this. We're gonna play hard, we're gonna play with class, we're gonna represent Santa Monica College football as well as the city of Santa Monica, whether we're on campus, or in the community, or anything that we're doing, and that's the first thing that we did when I got here, and I got here like what 14 months ago something like that. A couple of months before the season last year, but we just wanted to bring in character guys that wanna play and want their education, and what better place to do that than getting your education at Santa Monica. Three-thousand students, you got the #1 transfer rate, as far as school and as far as in the state of California, they have a lot of academic support they need to use it more. That's our job to get them to use it more, and we're positive going forward but we know we're in the upper division now and that's different, and everybody knows that. We were in the upper division last year, but we're still in it. I'll take these guys anytime. They got a lot of heart, and they still found a way to win."