Defense fuels comeback victory

The Santa Monica College Corsair defense came through big for the second consecutive game, as they held the L.A. Valley College Monarchs scoreless in the second half on their way to a 26-22 victory in SMC’s annual homecoming game this past Saturday. The Corsairs (5-2, 3-0) entered Saturday on a three-game winning streak, with all three wins being in conference play, while the Monarchs went into the game (4-3, 2-1).

Before the game, SMC Head Coach Gifford Lindheim put on an old boxing match - Sugar Ray Leonard’s win over Marvin Hagler, to remind his team that “in order to be the champ, you have to beat the champ.”

L.A. Valley Monarchs are last year's defending Pacific Conference winners.

Despite the inspirational video, the Corsairs came out looking sluggish, especially in defense, where they gave up 138 rushing yards in the first half. The Monarchs scored off rushing touchdowns from Michael Johnson, Morey Croson, and Malcolm Thomas.

The Corsairs’ inability to stop the running game lead to a 22-13 halftime deficit. “We were shooting ourselves in the foot,” said defensive lineman Karl Buchanan.

The Corsairs offense would score twice in the second quarter, with a five-yard touchdown run by running back Myles Johnson and a 34-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Alfonso Medina to wide receiver Kris Komas, that gave the Corsair defense momentum going into halftime.

During halftime, SMC capped off the Homecoming celebration with a contest in which two participants tried to punt a football over 40 yards into the bed of a pick-up-truck. A $10,000 prize would be awarded to the participant who made the kick, but neither one came close.

Coming out of the half, defensive lineman Martin Perry reminded his team what defense coordinator Steven Garcia said. “Man up, it’s time to go.” They certainly responded - by holding the Monarch offense scoreless with only 39 total yards in the second half.

A one-yard run by Medina in the fourth quarter would pull the Corsairs within two points.

Minutes later, the SMC defense forced a critical fumble, leading to a four-yard touchdown run by running back Daniel Pipkin, which put the Corsairs up 26-22.

Both teams would go scoreless to end the game. “That’s the heart of a champion,” Lindheim said about his team’s defense.

The Corsairs travel to Glendale next Saturday, looking to go 5-0 in conference play.