The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

Gridiron squad captures bowl victory

If momentum is important in football games, then the Warriors had just enough left to beat the Chaffey Panthers 21-14, in the Southern California Verizon Bowl at Chaffey College Nov. 22.

The Warriors (8-3) gained all the momentum on the opening play of the second half. After the Panthers (8-3) fumbled the kickoff, Paul McCalope scooped the ball up on the 19-yard line and crossed the goal line to give EC an imposing 21-7 lead.

But then Chaffey regained the momentum with a touchdown several plays later for a 21-14 score.

The Warriors seemed in control, but Chaffey advanced to the EC 12-yard line with 12 seconds left.

After three incomplete passes, Chaffey had one more try with just 0.5 seconds left in the game.

Panther quarterback Nick Davila threw the ball into the right corner of the end zone, but EC defensive back Clavens Charles batted the ball away.

“They checked on the opposite side to make me feel the ball was going that way,” Charles said. “But they threw it back toward me and I just jumped up and knocked it down.”

The EC bench celebrated in wild jubilation after the last play.

“We just wanted to keep them out of the end zone,” safety Keith Ellison said. “I can’t explain it, but as hard as I played today this is a great feeling.”

Coach John Featherstone said the team had a special reason to win.

“On those last four plays, all I did was look at Coach Pete (Fred Petersen) retiring after 50 years in football, and prayed, ‘God, please let that man win the last football game of his career.’ ”

Petersen said, “The win was a good way to go out, because this is a great bunch of kids and that makes it all worthwhile.”

The Warriors struck first on a 5-yard plunge by running back Mafua Leilua, who gained 87 yards on 16 carries and scored two touchdowns.

After Chaffey scored a touchdown, Leilua scored again from the 3.

Then McCalope returned the fumble on the second-half kickoff for a completely unexpected Warriors touchdown.

“When I saw the ball sitting there, I said, “I finally got my turn,’ ” McCalope said. “That touchdown felt good.”

Matt Engle completed 15 of 27 passes for 180 yards and was named MVP of the bowl game.

“Luckily, our defense stopped them on the goal line,” Engle said.

Tight end Kolo Kapanui said he was overjoyed when the Warriors held off the Panthers at the end.

“This is the best game I have ever been a part of,” he said. “We played hard and didn’t come up short today.”

Defensive end Leon Lautalo suffered a sprained anterior cruciate ligament early in the game, but returned in the fourth quarter.

“There was no way I was coming out of the game,” he said.

Earlier in the week, Engle was named Mission Conference Most Valuable Player, for a season in which he completed 208 of 340 passes for 21 touchdowns, 2,658 yards and eight interceptions.

Other first-team selections were Clint Holiona, offensive tackle; Keith Ellison, strong safety; Elias Ellis, middle linebacker and David Lautalo, defensive tackle.

Second-team selections were Marcus McCall, fullback; Aaron Sapien, offensive lineman; Matt Dragich, punter; Leon Lautalo, defensive end and Kasey Stichler, outside linebacker.

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