The Vaqueros avoided an 0-2 start to the season by beating the Dons in similar fashion to last year’s 23-14 victory in the Western State Bowl.
“We were just playing hard-nosed football,” said defensive lineman Grant Valentine, who finished with 13 tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble. “We weren’t going to lose at home.”
Outside of one play in the first quarter and another late in the fourth, the defense was on top of its game.
The unit finished with five sacks, an interception and two fumble recoveries, including one which was returned for a game-sealing touchdown.
Matching last week’s point total in the first quarter, the offense hit its stride as well, particularly in the opening 30 minutes. During that span, the Vaqueros received two rushing touchdowns and two field goals to take a 20-7 advantage into the second half.
Running back Shaun Kermah had a workmanlike 84 yards and the two rushing scores on 20 carries.
“The O-line was getting all their blocks,” Kermah said. “All I had to do was read it.”
His first touchdown came on the Vaqueros’ opening possession, as an 11-yard run up the gut capped an eight-play drive and evened the score at 7 with 10:53 left in the first quarter.
Kermah again found the end zone, this time on the first play of the second quarter, on a one-yard dive at the goal line, putting the Vaqueros up 17-7.
“Our offense had a better first half this week than last week,” said Glendale college Coach John Cicuto, whose team managed one offensive touchdown in a 31-10 loss a week earlier.
Boasting one of the best units in the state last year, the defense found its roots.
Santa Ana (0-2) managed just 55 rushing yards and a big chunk of its 267 passing yards by quarterback Mark Iddins came via one big play, with the Vaqueros (1-1) otherwise controlling the tempo.