Second Half Surge Propels Corsairs to Victory

“This is how we do, this is what we do. Give us hot, give us cold,” said head coach Gifford Lindheim, after proudly ending a two-year losing streak against San Bernardino Valley College. The Santa Monica College Corsairs got their act together after the second half, and left San Bernardino with their heads held high Saturday night, winning 45-34. The Corsairs had a rough first half, unable to break the Wolverines offense, which ran the ball 499 yards. They also had a difficult time penetrating through the holes in the Wolverines defensive line. The line didn’t do a good job of protecting their quarterback Alfonso Medina, who was sacked five times, and took a couple hard hits.

By the end of the first half, the Corsairs were looking like they had already lost the game. The high temperatures in the San Bernardino Valley had taken the energy out of the team, as they trailed SBVC 19-14.

“Tonight we were on the ropes, and this team found a way to come back,” said Lindheim, adding that the team did a much better job of running the football in the second half.

After halftime, the Corsairs came onto the field looking reenergized and hungry for a win. They went into the fourth quarter trailing SBVC 34-21, but after Ethan Hillyer caught a 73-yard scoring pass for the Wolverines, the Corsairs responded with three unanswered touchdowns and a field goal.

The entire atmosphere changed; the fire had been put back into the team, and the energy was palpable. Myles Johnson ran the ball 17 yards into the end zone for SMC, and shortly after, kicker Jose Esquivel made a 27-yard field goal, increasing SMC’s lead to 38-34.

With 1:39 left, SMC abruptly ended the Wolverines’ final comeback attempt, when defensive back Aaron Rogers recorded his second interception, returning it for a touchdown with 25 seconds remaining in the game.

“As soon as I saw him drop his shoulders, [the Wolverines’ quarterback] looked right at me,” said Rogers. “I knew where he was going to throw the ball, and it was my job to step up and make a big play, and I did it.”

Rogers brought the momentum the team needed.

“Aaron has a high football IQ,” said Lindheim. “That last interception to close the show was a great way to end the game. I’m very pleased. When you’re up against a wall, how do you respond? Do you fold your tent or do you fight back? We were up against the wall several times, and I thought we responded every time the challenge came.”

The Corsairs, as a whole, came out in the second half confidently, and knew what they needed to do in order to beat SBVC. By blocking more effectively, and working as a team, the holes in the Wolverines’ defensive line opened up, and SMC used that to their advantage.

“We didn’t limp out of here—we sprinted,” said Lindheim.

The Corsairs will have to tough through practices this week to tighten their defensive and offensive strategies before they go up against conference rival West L.A. College this Saturday at 1 p.m.