SMC football dynasty endures with fourth straight conference championship
The fifth-ranked Santa Monica College Corsair football team secured at least a share of their fourth straight conference championship Saturday afternoon, defeating the third-ranked Santa Barbara City College Vaqueros 37-21. Not only were the Vaqueros the only other unbeaten team in conference play, but the victory also continues the Corsairs' 27 game conference winning streak. Now all that stands between the Corsairs and the outright conference championship crown, is a victory next Saturday at Pierce College in the season finale.
“I’m elated. I’m so happy for these guys who worked so hard, It’s such a group effort, and these guys put a lot into it, to get rewarded with this is very meaningful,” said SMC Head Coach Gifford Lindheim.
With 2:30 to go in the fourth quarter, and up 10, SMC was forced to punt from their own 14-yard line after a three and out. However, SMC punter Edward Stuart caught a case of the itis at the worst possible time and shanked the punt, giving the Vaqueros the ball at Corsar’s 10-yard line.
But on the ensuing play the Corsairs sacked Santa Barbara quarterback Brandon Edwards, forcing the fumble, which was scooped up by SMC linebacker D.J Beard, and returned 80-yards for a touchdown, sealing the victory.
“Coming up big for my team was huge. This whole game, we were really playing, doing our job. D-line, linebackers, and DB’s, we just knew we had to keep it close, and keep fighting,” said SMC linebacker D.J Beard. “Everybody did their job, and luckily on the [fumble recovery for a TD] the ball rolled my way, and I just had to execute.”
The Corsair defense, led by cornerback Jashawn Lowe, kept the Vaqueros at bay while the offense stalled towards the final gun.
“I told my team, I’ve been watching film for weeks. I even fell asleep watching film. I just kept my team going, kept everybody positive saying we’re going to get this, and turns it out I get three picks, it was crazy you know,” Lowe said.
Lowe shut down Santa Barbara’s first red-zone drive, with an interception in the end zone, preserving the Corsairs 3-0 lead. On the following drive the Corsairs scored a touchdown off of the turnover pushing the lead to 10-0, and they never looked back.
But that wasn’t the last time the Vaqueros would hear Lowe’s name announced over the loudspeakers. Late in the fourth quarter, Lowe secured two more interceptions, allowing the Corsairs a chance to run just enough time off the clock, and keep Santa Barbara at arms reach.
“The first [interception] stood out because he tried to run a stop and go on me, but I didn’t let that happen. The second one was a gimme, I stayed in my zone, did my assignment, and got the pick. The third one, that was just whooo, I dove for that one. I messed up my shoulder, but I’m good.” Lowe said.
Three picks is quite an accomplishment, even for a defense as formidable as SMC’s. But if you ask Coach Lindheim, there’s not a lot that surprises him out of his guys anymore.
“Jashawn was lights out today. He had to be, and we knew he was going to be lights out. I don’t bet, but if I was to bet money, I’d bet #1 was going to make plays today, and he did,” Lindheim said.
Now all that’s left for the Corsairs is to come away from Pierce College next Saturday with a victory, and the outright claim to the Western State Conference Championship.
“We’re going to enjoy this all the way up until Monday, and then we’re going to go back to work. The practice schedule will be the same, the formula will be the same, and then we have to go prove it again next week,” said Lindheim. “We don’t get to carry points into next game. It’s going to be 0-0, and we know Pierce [College] is a good team, and we have to be ready.”
However, that does not mean Lindheim does not appreciate the importance of the moment.
“It feels the sweetest because it’s right now. When you look at four in a row, you have to look at one at a time, and that’s the way we look at it. We don’t talk about the previous ones, because it doesn’t matter. All that matters to us is what we’re doing this year with this team, and trying to fulfill our potential each year,” Lindheim said.
The Corsairs will travel to Pierce College next Saturday for the season finale. Kickoff at 6pm.