With a new state-of-art athletic field to play on, a near capacity crowd and new cheerleaders to cheer the team on, and a sunset glistening in the west, all that was needed was a Vaquero victory to make it a perfect ending.
But the Vaqueros could not provide that for the crowd, as they fell to Southwestern College 39-36 in the first-ever game played at home in the history of GCC, on Sept. 3.
“It’s really disappointing to all the players as well as for myself because the players were really pumped to play on the new field and get a win,” said Head Coach John Cicuto.
The Vaqueros, who went 4-6 last season and have 32 returning players, showed that they are a team that won’t go down without a fight; only this time their struggle didn’t make it far enough.
After the Vaqueros valiantly scored 16 points in the last three minutes to tie the game, a 39-yard field goal by the Jaguars’ Ryan Bowling, with three seconds remaining in the game, gave his team a win and snatched away the chance of a Vaquero victory.
The Vaqueros, who had a chance to win after quarterback Steve Martinez carried the ball from Vaquero 23 to the Jaguars 46, with less than 30 seconds remaining in the game, fell short after they failed to gain three yards on three consecutive plays. This allowed for a Southwestern possession and an eventual victory.
“We had trouble with our special teams,” said sophomore defensive lineman, Jason Bonwell. “Coach Cicuto had been telling us all week the special teams were going to make us or break us and this time it broke us.”
The Vaqueros, who didn’t play well in the first half and trailed behind 29-14 going into the second half, stepped up their defense and didn’t allow the Jaguars to score any points in the third quarter.
The offense also stepped up as they cut the Jaguars lead to nine points after Martinez, who passed for 260 yards and had 5 touchdowns, four of which were on the ground, scored a rushing touchdown with 3:15 remaining on the clock.
But in the end, Southwestern ended up being the better team and handed the Vaqueros their fourth season-opening loss in five years.
“It was a great game,” said Cicuto. “Our offense moved the ball well throughout the game and our defense stepped up in the second half, but in the end, we fell short.”
Besides Martinez, other key players for the Vaqueros were sophomore wide receiver Darion Donnelly, who had 11 receptions for 119 yards and one touchdown, sophomore running back, Samuel Ledford who had 13 carries for 67 yards, averaging 5.2 yards per carry, and sophomore defensive end Marco Ramirez, who had a 61-yard fumble return, which set up the Vaqueros second score.
The Vaqueros, evened their record at 1-1 with a 21-17 road win against Antelope Valley College Sept. 10, but fell to Compton 14-7 Sept. 17, in the Western State Conference Southern Division opener for both teams. The Vaqueros are now 1-2 and 0-1 this season. Their next game is Sept. 24 at 1 p.m. at L.A Southwest College.