Late interception leads to victory

With just over five minutes remaining in Saturday’s matchup between the Santa Monica College football team and the West Los Angeles Wildcats, the Corsairs found themselves desperately clinging to a five-point lead as the Wildcats forged their way inside the Corsairs' 20-yard line. After a methodically orchestrated drive by the Wildcats, it seemed very likely that the Corsairs would have to respond with at least a field goal, as it appeared West LA would inevitably punch in the go-ahead touchdown. But Corsairs' linebacker Daveed Carter had other plans. As the Wildcat quarterback dropped back in the pocket and fired a pass inside the 5-yard line, the Corsairs' defensive line tipped the pass leading to an interception by Carter. Behind a fleet of blockers, Carter suddenly found himself with nothing but open field in front of him as he ran his way to a 95-yard touchdown, preserving SMC's 32-23 victory. “When I saw the ball, I thought, just don’t drop it," said Carter. "Then when I caught it, I was trying to avoid defenders and get to the end zone, because you never know when you will have another chance to get back there. At first I thought about going right, but something told me to go left. If it was not for my teammates, I don’t think I could have got in [to the end zone].” The pick-six play was not only Carter’s first of the season, but the first of his young career. As head coach Gifford Lindheim put it, it was, “the biggest play of the game." “The interception return was huge," said Lindheim. "They had the momentum, they were going in to score and take the lead. It was one of the best plays of the year, one of the best plays I've seen in a while." Though the Wildcats made a late game comeback behind an ill-timed SMC turnover and good field position, the Corsairs built their initial lead behind an impressive first-half defense and a breakout game by running back Eric Kyle. Kyle gave SMC an early 7-0 lead behind an impressive 20-yard touchdown run. Late in the third quarter, he would strike again with another touchdown, coming from over 60 yards away. “It felt good getting in the end zone and helping my team however I can; I’m here to do whatever my team needs me to do,” said Kyle. “The defense tried to keep coming, but our offense kept playing hard and making that push. I just had to make the right moves.” Though the Corsairs escaped with the victory, it was not without mistakes. Some of them were very substantial, including a dropped 68-yard touchdown pass, which could have sealed the victory. “I feel like we left a lot of plays out there," said Corsairs' quarterback Jerry McConnico. "Our wide receivers were more imposing than their cornerbacks. I think we could have made more plays." Saturday’s matchup was SMC’s first in Pacific Conference play, putting them at 1-0 so far. Overall, the Corsairs improved to 2-2, with two early losses still leaving a bit of a blemish for the defending conference champions. “Adversity is a good thing," said Lindheim. "We look forward to these challenges, and we have been very successful at meeting those challenges. We like to compete. When it gets like that, it’s how you respond to these plays and overcome them. We have a lot of work to do if we hope to defend and three-peat.” SMC will return home to Corsair Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 5 at 1 p.m. as they attempt to put together back-to-back wins for the first time this season against the Glendale College Vaqueros.