May 22, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PHOTOS: SAC falls to Pasadena 28-21 in Southern California Bowl

Kristian Constantine of Santa Ana College tries to elude a tackle by Jaylon McGee of Pasadena City College Saturday night. (Photos: Fernando M. Donado, For OC Sports Zone).

Santa Ana College gave up two fourth-quarter touchdowns and fell to Pasadena City College 28-21 in the Southern California Bowl Saturday night at Santa Ana Stadium. 

The loss snapped the Dons seven-game winning streak. SAC won the Metro Conference and finished with a 7-4 record. The Lancers, champions of the Mountain Conference, ended the season with a 9-2 record.  

“It’s a disappointing loss,” said SAC Coach Anthony White. “We had three chances in the second half in the red zone, but we didn’t punch it in. You have to score touchdowns in those situations. But it was a successful season and we’ll continue to recruit and build towards next season.” 

To see the slide show, click on the first photo:

Leading 21-14 at halftime, the Dons struggled to get on track in the second half.  A blocked field goal and two interceptions allowed Pasadena to hang around and eventually the Lancers capitalized on the Dons mistakes.

Three plays following a personal SAC foul penalty after a punt, the Lancers had excellent field position. Wide receiver Justin Campbell took a pitch on a reverse that completely caught the Dons out of position. Campbell bolted into the end zone from 28 yards to tie the score at 21 with 8:59 to play.

Ceasar Ayala threw an interception on the ensuing SAC possession and Pasadena capitalized. Faced with a third down at their own 5-yard line, Lancers quarterback Kade Wentz, under heavy pressure in the end zone, found Miles Anderson wide open down the sideline. Anderson hauled in the pass and sprinted 95 yards for the go ahead score with 6:24 left.

“My initial receiver was covered and when I saw Miles, my eyes lit up and I able to get him the ball,” said Wentz, who completed 18 of 24 passes for 268 yards a TD and was named the game’s MVP. 

The Dons got the ball back two more times but Ayala’s fourth-down pass at the Lancers 19 fell incomplete and then his long toss in the closing seconds was picked off, securing the win for Pasadena. 

Ayala completed 24 of 44 passes for 228 yards and three touchdowns. He finished the season with 33 touchdown passes and 2,487 yards passing.

“We were sloppy, both our offense and defense could have played better,” said Ayala. “Overall, this season exceeded my expectations. I didn’t expect to get to play as much as I did and I feel blessed to have had the opportunity.”

SAC runningback Gary Ferman had his biggest game of the season as he rushed for 151 yards. Kristian Contantine, Arthur Shaw and Tyler Shimomura combined to catch 17 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Zack Dunham (2.5 sacks), Matt Wann and EJ Gowdy led the Dons defense. Gowdy was named SAC’s defensive player of the game.   

“After our two losses to start the season, our team really came together and it was a great season,” said Shimomura.

The Dons got on the board first as Ayala engineered an 80-yard scoring drive that resulted in a 32-yard touchdown pass from Ayala to Constantine. Constantine made an outstanding catch in the corner of the end zone, as he outmuscled a defender to give SAC a 7-0 lead at the 4:10 mark of the opening quarter. It was Constantine’s 10th touchdown catch of the season.  

The Lancers countered immediately on the ensuing possession with a six-play, 63-yard scoring drive of their own. Anderson capped the scoring march with a 4-yard TD run to tie the score at 7 late in the first quarter.  

Early in the second quarter, as the Dons were going in for a go ahead score, Pasadena’s defense struck. Linebacker Jordan Monroe intercepted an Ayala fourth-down pass attempt at the Lancers 3-yard line and raced 97 yards untouched for a touchdown and giving the Lancers a 14-7 lead. Monroe was named defensive player of the game.

But the Dons responded behind the powerful running of Ferman and Ayala’s arm. On a fourth-and-six play, Ayala tossed a 26-yard TD pass to Shimomura, who made a spectacular leaping catch and tip-toed into the end zone to tie the score at 14.     

Under heavy pressure, Ayala kept his composure and completed nine passes as the Dons drove 93 yards in 12 plays to take a 21-14 lead late in the half. Kyran Hayes caught a short pass from Ayala and darted into the end zone to give the Dons a 21-14 halftime lead.  

–Courtesy Tom Connolly, For OC Sports Zone