Strong fourth quarter leads to Corsair win
When the coach calls your number, you have to be ready to perform, and Brandon Hunt did just that. In the biggest surprise of the afternoon, Hunt, a third string quarterback for the Santa Monica College football team, was called upon by the SMC football coaching staff to relieve current starter Jerry McConnico, who just last week helped lead the Corsairs to victory over West Los Angeles College.
Hunt helped steady the Corsairs in a back-and-forth battle that lasted nearly the entire game, entering the game with SMC trailing 7-6 early on and guiding them to a 44-28 victory over the Glendale College Vaqueros on Saturday.
“After the first half, I felt a little bit calm; some of the nervousness was gone," said Hunt. "The second half I felt good the whole time.” In his first opportunity to show his skill, Hunt finished with an impressive stat line, going 25-37 for 327 yards including one touchdown and an interception.
“I thought Brad [Hunt] played well," said head coach Gifford Lindheim. "We have confidence in all three of the guys [quarterbacks] that we play, and I think Brad really stepped up and ran the offense well today. He did a nice job. We just thought it was the right time to see if Brad could do it or not, so I pulled the trigger, and he did it.”
The majority of the game saw the Corsairs striking back and forth with the Vaqueros, and they were unable to create comfortable separation until the fourth quarter.
After a 22-yard field goal put the SMC football team up two points with three minutes to go in the third quarter, the Corsairs lined up and kicked the ball off to the Vaqueros.
Glendale botched the catch on the return, and the Corsairs tracked down the kick returner, knocked the ball loose and scored a much needed insurance touchdown courtesy of freshman defensive back Tyler Hasty. “I saw the returner do a cut back, then I got my hands on him, spun him and then I think [Dajuan] Perryman came and knocked the ball out," said Hasty. "Then [wide receiver] Jacob [Stowell] tapped it to me. I scooped it up and ran to the end zone. After the fumble recovery, the Corsairs defense found themselves facing fourth and 2 at midfield. SMC allowed Glendale to score a 47-yard rushing touchdown on the next play that closed the gap back to two points. A rushing touchdown by freshman running back Melvin Davis put SMC up nine points with twelve minutes left in the game, and the Corsairs faced another huge 4th down. But this time, SMC’s defense would not make the same mistake twice as they stuffed the Vaqueros in the backfield turning the ball over on downs. On the ensuing drive, Davis would score the game-clinching touchdown, making it his second of the day. Not only did SMC’s defense have great timing on the play, but they also dominated the line of scrimmage, recording three sacks while the Vaqueros came up empty trying to reach SMC’s quarterbacks all afternoon. “At halftime, I challenged our team," said Lindheim. "I challenged our defense to be physical and play hard. There were some series there. Three or four drives in a row where that was a championship-caliber defense, and the type of defense we’ve played here in the past.” Although the Corsairs did not cash in on every opportunity, Saturday’s match was not short of exciting plays. The Corsairs filled up the stat sheet with a blocked punt and an interception in the first half, both leading to touchdowns, one of which was a 33-yard touchdown run thanks to sophomore running back Eric Kyle who finished the day with 117 rushing yards. Despite a strong finish to the game, the win did not come without its hiccups. The Corsairs were flagged for 13 penalties adding up to 127 yards, lost three of five fumbles, and surrendered an interception. “I’ve been looking for these situations where we can really grow and perform at a high level," said Lindheim. "Those are the types of situations that really build football teams and test you. I was really happy to see our team rise to the occasion.” “We had some mental mistakes, flags, but our coaches know what to do," said Hunt. "We’ll watch film, fix it and take advantage of those opportunities. You can’t leave points out on the field.” The Corsairs have the weekend off, and will try to build on their win streak at Los Angeles Southwest College on Saturday, Oct. 19, at 1 p.m.