While the offense had its moments in the first half and the defense did some nice things, the Achilles heel for the Vaqueros proved to be on special teams.
“Our special teams just killed us tonight,” Glendale college Coach John Cicuto said.
The Vaqueros had a punt blocked in the third quarter, another one blocked which would have resulted in a touchdown but was called back because of a penalty, and a blocked field goal that ended in the Panthers’ go-ahead touchdown.
With 6:32 remaining in the third quarter, Glendale college kicker Estaban Moreno lined up for a 28-yard attempt that would have given his team a 13-7 lead. Instead, Chaffey’s Kameron Hart tipped the ball, which was then picked up by Augustine Osuala and returned 80 yards for the score.
Instead of a six-point cushion, the Vaqueros found themselves trailing for the first time at 14-10.
The play turned the tide and gave hope to a Panthers’ squad which looked lifeless up until that point.
“It wasn’t looking real good in the first half,” Chaffey Coach Carl Beech said, “but we got those breaks in the end.”
The Vaqueros last points of the game came less than a minute into the second quarter when they extended the lead to 10-0 on a Moreno 22-yard field goal.
But even then, it was a disappointing three points.
Despite taking advantage of a short field and driving down to within the five-yard line, the Vaqueros fumbled the quarterback-center exchange on third and short, effectively having to settle for three instead of a possible seven points.
On the next possession an ill-advised interception by quarterback Mike McDonald in Chaffey territory lead to a touchdown the other way and got the Panthers to within 10-7.
“That’s a 14-point turnaround right there,” Cicuto said.
Offensively, the Vaqueros had their moments, like the short touchdown pass starting quarterback Jacob Proctor threw to Chris Marshall on their opening drive for the 7-0 lead. But inconsistencies in the scoreless second half attributed to the 250 yards of total offense generated by the team.
“Our offense was just terrible in the second half,” Cicuto says.
Splitting time with McDonald under center, Proctor played three quarters and finished 14 of 25 for 113 yards, with the touchdown and an interception. McDonald saw action in the second quarter and completed two of eight passes for 19 yards and an interception.
Running back Shaun Kermah rushed for a team-high 30 yards.
“I think we are better than this 31-10 score,” Cicuto said. “Hopefully it will teach [the players] a sense of humility.”