Corsairs top rival L.A. Pierce again

There's just something about the Pierce College Brahmas that transforms the Santa Monica College Corsairs from idle to relevant, as they once again defeated their Pacific Conference rivals 40-33 Saturday night, the third such win against the Brahmas in as many seasons.

"It is a rivalry, and they're up right now," said Pierce head coach Efrain Martinez.

Coming into the game, the two teams were stark opposites in terms of success on the season, with Pierce having conceded the same number of games the Corsairs had managed to win: two.

The high scoring Brahma offense was averaging 43 points per game compared to the Corsairs paltry 17, and those efforts were apparent throughout the match as Pierce managed to outgain the Corsairs over the ground and through the air with 523 total offensive yards to Santa Monica's 355.

But the Corsairs have been making statements on defense all season and they had a lot to say against the Brahmas.

On the first play of Brahma's second drive, Vincent Browne intercepted Pierce's Exavier Johnson at the 50 yard line for 13 yards, the first of three interceptions on the night for the SMC defense.

Corsair quarterback Travis Williams then hooked up with wide-receiver Chase Fletcher for a 5-yard touchdown pass on the ensuing possession.

The Brahmas answered early in the second quarter with a 3 yard run by Daniel Lopez, but the extra point attempt was blocked by the SMC defense making it 7-6.

The game would go back and forth with the teams changing leads a total of seven times throughout the contest.

After letting the Brahmas regain the lead on an eight-play drive that went for 70 yards, the Corsair offense pushed their way back on the legs of freshman running-back Benjamin Irwin-Crayton for a 1-yard touchdown run which, after the extra point attempt, gave SMC a one point lead over Pierce at 34-33.

With 2:08 left in the game, Pierce had managed to drive up to mid-field when sophomore defensive-back A.J. Annelus got his second interception of the night, effectively killing off the drive and the little hope the Brahmas had left.

"Everybody outside of us thought we were going to lose," said Annelus. "All this week I knew the game was on me; me and the secondary."

The Brahmas did have one final chance with 16 seconds left and no timeouts, but a stubborn Corsair defense ended up running away with a 33 yard fumble recovery by linebacker Joey Alvarez resulting in a defensive touchdown, an exclamation point to an already stellar defensive outing.

The Corsairs (3-4-0) now lead the conference in turnover margin and are currently tied at second in scoring defense with Los Angeles Southwest.

SMC's next opponents are the Los Angeles Valley Monarchs. The game will be played at L.A. Valley at 6:00 pm.