Football wins home opener
As the fog rolled over Corsair Stadium, the Santa Monica College Corsairs fought their way to a 30-27 victory over the Chaffey College Panthers, behind an offensive attack led by quarterback Steven Hamm, and a stout second half defensive performance highlighted by linebacker Dajuan Perryman.
It took some time for the Corsairs to find their rhythm defensively, allowing 20 points in the first half. But despite Chaffey’s impressive output the first two quarters, SMC managed to match the Panthers thanks to a one-yard touchdown run from running back Melvin Davis as time expired in the first half.
“When we’re in a crucial moment, I have to give our team the opportunity to grow and take ownership,” said head coach Gifford Lindheim. “They’re telling me they can do it, and I have to believe in them.”
Though the Corsair defense had a hard time containing the Panthers in the first half, that was not the case in the second. They held Chaffey to only seven points the last two quarters, shutting the Panthers out in the final 27 minutes of the game.
“We were trying to find ourselves most of the game when it came to the run defense,” said Lindheim. “The best coverage is a great pass rush, and the best pass rush is great coverage. It works together.”
The defensive unit put their stamp on the game just before the start of the fourth quarter, right after the Panthers moved the ball all the way down to the Corsairs’ three-yard line. On second and goal, Perryman made a game-saving tackle for a loss, pushing the Panthers all the way back to the SMC 10-yard line, which led to a missed field goal, preserving the win.
“I went down there and had to make a play for the team, get the offense back on the field so we could make something happen, run that clock out,” said Perryman.
Getting the offense back on the field was definitely a concern for the Corsairs all game long. The Panthers finished the game with a 15-minute advantage in time of possession, 35 minutes to SMC’s 20.
Despite Chaffey having the ball an entire quarter longer than the Corsairs, Hamm eventually had his way with the Panthers, going 16 for 31 in the air for 203 yards and two touchdowns. Hamm also added 101 yards on the ground rushing for one touchdown as well.
“The QB [quarterback] option is a huge part of our game plan,” said Hamm. “It’s what opens up bigger runs and breaks, which it did. The drives to end the first half are what got the momentum going.”
Though there were some correctable mistakes, all in all it was an impressive performance, especially late in the third and fourth quarters, when SMC needed to muster everything they had left after an already exhausting game.
“We’re still not at our full potential, but when we get there, we are going to be making some big plays,” said Hamm.
The Corsairs will try to start a small winning streak at home next Saturday, Sept. 21 at 1 p.m. against San Bernardino Valley College.