Inconsistency, Youth Too Much for Vaqs to Overcome

Ross Coleman

Consistency is a word that is often thrown around by sports fans, and when there is a team as young as this year’s edition of the Vaqs football team, it is easy to see how the word applies.

After winning their previous two games by a combined score of 95-28, the Vaqs bid for a third straight win fell short Saturday night at Sartoris Field, as Glendale lost to the Orange Coast College Pirates, 31-24.

“They are a great football team, a well-coached football team,” said head coach John Rome. “We knew we had our work cut out for us.”

The Vaqs running game that had come up large for the team all year struggled mightily against a Pirate defense that is ranked number three in the state. The lone bright sport for the running game was freshman Lavelle Peterson, out of La Canada High, who provided a much-needed shot in the arm.

Peterson finished the game with 107 yards on 15 carries in his first action of the season.
“He had been hurt previously, so we had a chance to let him run,” said Rome of Peterson. “We feel he is a pretty good running back and we feel that he can do those things that we ask of him. I’m very pleased with his performance.”

With just under 11 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Vaqs had some work to do down 31-10. The arm of freshman quarterback Dylan Martinez led the Vaqs back to within striking distance. Martinez finished the game with 287 yards and 3 touchdown passes.
Martinez’s primary target was freshman wide receiver Michael Harrison who had five catches for 135 yards and a touchdown. “He is a guy who has very good hands, he is just so diminutive,” said Rome of the 5-foot-6-inch Harrison.

Most of the game, the Vaqs played from behind and struggled against a very talented Pirate team. Both teams finished with an identical 369 total offensive yards; however, the Pirates were able to keep mistakes to a minimum.

On their second offensive possession, the Vaqs were helped out by four penalties assessed to the Pirates, which helped move the ball down to the nine yard-line. The drive then stalled and kicker Chris Chapman missed a 27-yard field goal that would have given the Vaqs a 3-0 lead.

The offensive mistakes piled on later in the game when the Pirates intercepted Martinez deep in Vaq territory. As a result of the turnover, the Pirates scored their second touchdown in a row making the score 14-0.

Momentum shifted the Vaqs’ way on a kickoff late in the second quarter, where the Vaqs were able to recover a fumble on a kickoff. The resulting drive ended in a touchdown pass from Martinez to Harrison on a 46-yard strike.

The Pirates came right back out of halftime and put up 10 third quarter points while holding the Vaqs to only two offensive possessions and only one first down.

The fourth quarter was where the fireworks came for the Vaqs. After being left for dead down 31-10 the Vaqs were able to pull within seven after Martinez’s third passing touchdown.

The Pirates recovered the ensuing onside kick and were able to run out the clock dropping the Vaqs record to 2-2 on the season.

“We’re very freshman oriented, and with the youth we have we have to learn to be consistent in practice week-in and week-out,” said Rome after the game. “I think we got a little full of ourselves this week. [Our players] thought we were pretty good and I think they got a little awakening today, especially in the third quarter.”

The Vaqs open conference play Saturday at home against Ventura College at 7 p.m.