Corsairs win conference opener against Vaqueros 33-9

The Santa Monica College Corsairs came out of their bye week this past Saturday looking to end a two-game losing skid and start conference play 1-0. The Corsairs did just that and beat the Santa Barbara Vaqueros 33-9.

“We don’t think about Santa Barbara," said Corsair head coach Gifford Lindheim a week before the game. "That is just the latest opponent that is going to line up against us. We worry about us and how we perform. If we take care of our part, we’re going to be just fine.”

The first-half started off rocky for SMC, as they made numerous mistakes and committed costly turnovers that the Vaqueros capitalized on.

The Corsairs’ first series led to a quick three-and-out, forcing them to punt.

However, a botched snap forced SMC punter Jose Esquiviel to kick the ball through the back of the end zone resulting in a safety.

On the Vaqueros next offensive play, running back Chad Wright broke off a 52-yard touchdown run putting them up 9-0.

The Corsairs' offense squandered away a possible scoring opportunity when running back Myles Johnson fumbled the ball at Santa Barbara’s 18-yard line, which was recovered by SBCC.

Lindheim was frustrated by his struggling offense’s scuffles, as they would turn the ball over again. This time it was on an Alfonso Medina interception that seemed to give the Vaqueros all the momentum.

Yet as time ticked away in the second quarter, the Corsairs capitalized on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Medina to wide receiver Aaron Jones that resulted in a 9-7 halftime score.

“You can’t turn the ball over,” Lindhiem said at halftime. “You can’t be a successful offense that way.”

The Corsairs would continue their efforts in the second half, when running back Alfonso Frederick fumbled away another scoring opportunity for the Corsairs.

The Corsairs were stunned by the fumble as they felt the game slipping away.

Late in the third quarter, the game turned in favor for the Corsairs when Vaqueros return man Manny Hernandez fumbled at SMC’s 49-yard line and was recovered by SMC running back Daniel Pipkin.

The fumble recovery appeared to energize the Corsairs. Three plays later, Johnson scored on an 18-yard run.

A failed two-point conversion put the score at 13-9 in favor of the visitors.

Following the touchdown, the SMC defense would continue their stellar play.

A Vaqueros fumble late in the third quarter was recovered by Pipkin, which led to a SMC score on the very next play.

Medina connected with wide receiver Kriss Comass on a 30-yard pass to put the Corsairs up 20-9 entering the fourth quarter.

SMC would continue to pressure the Vaqueros with sound defense and two more touchdown passes from Medina sealed the 33-9 victory for the Corsairs.

Medina would finish the game throwing for 339 yards, four touchdowns and an interception, on 20 for 29 passing.

Comass finished the game with 5 receptions, 105 receiving yards, and two touchdowns.

Even though on paper Pipkin didn’t have an outstanding game, in the eyes of assistant coach Steven Garcia, he made a huge contribution to the game.

“The guy is a football player,” Garcia said. “He got his opportunity and shined.”

Defensively, the Corsairs forced seven turnovers and were led by defensive lineman Gerald Blockman, who had 10 total tackles and a fumble recovery.

Defensive back Ricardo Wright also came up big with two interceptions.

The Corsairs are now 3-2 on the season, and their next game is at Los Angeles Southwest College this Saturday at 6 p.m.