Plus, there was a great deal on the line for both teams. Santa Monica (8-1, 6-0) now stands alone atop the American Division's Pacific Conference with a chance to secure the conference title with a win next week at Antelope Valley. A win by Pierce (7-2, 5-1) would have clinched the American-Pacific championship and earned the Brahmas a berth in the American Bowl for the second time in the last three years.
Arbuckle finished an astounding 43 of 77 passing for 643 yards, while Medina was 23 of 39 for 389 yards. Add back-up SMC quarterback Michael Miller's 24-yard completion on a fake punt play and both teams topped the 400-yard mark in passing yards. And adding in a flanker option pass by Pierce's Jaelen Strong and a spike to stop the ball (counted as a team pass attempt, officially) and the teams combined for 130 pass attempts.
The offenses dominated virtually from the start. Pierce took a 3-0 lead on a 28-yard field goal by Brian Gutierrez just 3:16 into the game, and Santa Monica answered just over a minute later with a 58-yard touchdown pass from Medina to Ralph Gordon II to take a 10-7 lead. Arbuckle threw a 53-yard pass to Tyrin Stone-Davis that got the ball to the 3, and one play later threw a touchdown pass to Adam Schechter to give Pierce a 10-7 lead. Santa Monica answered with a 7-play, 67-yard drive and re-took the lead with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Medina to tight end Dominique Bierria to take a 14-10 lead late in the first quarter.
Pierce, however, would dominate the second quarter and take a 26-14 lead at the half. Arbuckle threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Schechter in the first minute of the second quarter to put Pierce back in front, 16-14 (the extra point was blocked by defensive end Marcus Manley). Then Arbuckle connected with Strong for an 8-yard touchdown pass to push the lead to 23-14. A 29-yard field goal by Gutierrez on the final play of the half made it 26-14. Meanwhile, two interceptions and a fumble stifled the Santa Monica offense, which had the ball deep in Brahma territory all three times, only to come away empty.
Pierce seemed to take control of the game early in the third quarter. Arbuckle capped a 13-play drive with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Leland Smith on the Brahmas first drive of the half, making it 33-14. Then Arbuckle teamed with Strong on a 7-yard touchdown pass to cap a quick, 5-play drive that made it 40-14 with 4:43 left in the third quarter.
Then came the Santa Monica comeback, which started on the Corsairs' very next possession. Myles Johnson sparked the drive with a 61-yard run, and on the next play Aaron Jones scored on a 4-yard run to make it 40-21. Santa Monica tried an onsides kick on the ensuing kickoff, and Eric Pugh recovered the ball for the Corsairs at the SMC 48. That led to another touchdown, which came on Medina's 21-yard scoring pass to Gordon with 22.4 seconds left in the third quarter, and suddenly Santa Monica was back in the game.
Pierce seemed to take the momentum right back when Arbuckle threw a 65-yard pass to Beau Sandland to get the Brahmas to the Corsair 14 on the final play of the third quarter. On the next play Arbuckle threw a short pass to Quran Kent, who just before reaching the goal line performed a DeSean Jackson-like flip into the end zone. That drew a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct, negating the score, but on the next play Arbuckle threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Stone-Davis to make it 47-28 with 14:48 left in the game.
That proved to be enough time for Santa Monica to rally, however, as Medina threw three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter alone. Meanwhile, it was suddenly Pierce who started turning the ball over, with three interceptions in the fourth quarter alone, and the Brahmas never scored again.
Medina capped an 8-play, 62-yard drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Bierria just over two minutes into the quarter to make it 47-35. Then Pierce drove to the Corsair 24, but after four incomplete passes turned the ball over on downs. Santa Monica answered with a 6-play, 76-yard drive, with Medina throwing a 25-yard touchdown pass to Gordon to make it a 5-point game at 47-42 with 6:14 left on the clock.
Pierce got the ball back on the kickoff, but moments later Arbuckle was intercepted by De-jon Mitchell. On the next play, Pierce got the ball back when Howard Wilder recovered a Johnson fumble. But the ball went back to Santa Monica just over two minutes after that when Qujuan Floyd intercepted a deflected pass at the Santa Monica 23 with 2:57 left in the game.
Two plays later, Medina threw a 40-yard pass to Bierria, getting the ball into scoring range at the Brahma 37. And on the very next play after that, Medina threw the ball to Jones, who scampered down the left sideline and into the end zone to give Santa Monica the lead and score what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown with 2:19 remaining.
Still, there was plenty of time for Pierce to score again. The Brahmas got the ball at their own 29 and had all 3 timeouts left. But Arbuckle was intercepted again by Mitchell, who ran the ball back into the end zone. The touchdown was negated by a penalty on the return, however, and Santa Monica soon had to punt. The one big advantage was that Pierce had to use all of its timeouts on the series, and the Brahmas took possession at their own 30 with 54.8 seconds left on the clock.
On first down, Arbuckle threw a short pass to Smith, but the play only gained 4 yards and consumed valuable time as he was tackled in the middle of the field. The next play was a 5-yard pass to Strong, but he too was tackled inbounds, and time continued to tick away. Arbuckle spiked the ball on 3rd down to stop the clock. On fourth down, his pass fell incomplete, turning the ball over to Santa Monica at the 39 with 16.5 seconds left, and the Corsairs were able to finally run out the clock and claim a truly epic victory.
With so many passing yards, it was amazing that Santa Monica's Johnson also rushed for more than one hundred yards, finishing with 107 on 24 carries. In all, Santa Monica had 523 yards of offense. Reggie Mitchell had 8 catches for 147 yards while Gordon had 4 catches for 117 yards and 3 touchdowns. Easy to lose in all the offense is that De-jon Mitchell had 2 interceptions while Devonte Anderson and Floyd each had one.
For Pierce, Arbuckle had 643 yards passing but the Brahmas also managed 126 yards on the ground to finish with an astounding total of 769. Kenny Boggs rushed 8 times for 44 yards. Strong led all receivers with 11 catches for 148 yards, and he had two touchdowns. Schechter had 10 catches for 121 yards and two scores. Stone-Davis had 5 catches for 120 yards.
Santa Monica Corsairs 50, L.A. Pierce Brahmas 47
Saturday, November 3, 2012 - 1 pm - Corsair Stadium, Santa Monica
American Division - Pacific Division
1st Quarter: P - FG Gutierrez 25 yds 11:44 (0-3)
SM - Gordon 58 yd pass from Medina (Esquivel kick) 10:39 (7-3)
P - Schechter 3 yd pass from Arbuckle (Gutierrez kick) 8:31 (7-10)
SM - Bierria 9 yd pass from Medina (Esquivel kick) 2:01 (14-10)
2nd Quarter: P - Schechter 24 yd pass from Arbuckle (kick blocked) 14:07 (14-16)
P - Strong 8 yd pass from Arbuckle (Gutierrez kick) 4:36 (14-23)
P - FG Gutierrez 29 yds 0:00 (14-26)
3rd Quarter: P - Smith 3 yd pass from Arbuckle (Gutierrez kick) 10:21 (14-33)
P - Strong 7 yd pass from Arbuckle (Gutierrez kick) 4:43 (14-40)
SM - A.Jones 4 yd run (Esquivel kick) 3:28 (21-40)
SM - Gordon 21 yd pass from Medina (Esquivel kick) 0:22.4 (28-40)
P - Tyrin Stone-Davis 17 yd pass from Arbuckle (Gutierrez kick) 14:48 (28-47)
SM - Bierria 13 yd pass from Medina (Esquivel kick) 12:47 (35-47)
SM - Gordon 25 yd pass from Medina (Esquivel kick) 6:14 (42-47)
SM - A.Jones 37 yd pass from Medina (Mitchell pass from Medina) 2:19 (50-47)
Team Statistics: First Downs: Santa Monica 21 (5 rush, 13 pass, 2 penalty), LA Pierce 30 (6 rush, 24 pass)
Rushes-Yds: Santa Monica 32-110, LA Pierce 25-126
Passing Yds: Santa Monica 413, LA Pierce 643
Comp-Att-Int: Santa Monica 24-41-2, LA Pierce 43-79-4
Return Yds: Santa Monica 171, LA Pierce 146
Sacks-Yds: Santa Monica 1-3, LA Pierce 1-6
Fumbles-Lost: Santa Monica 4-2, LA Pierce 1-1
Penalties-Yds: Santa Monica 8-70, LA Pierce 18-198
Time of Possession: Santa Monica 29:44, LA Pierce 30:16
Rushing: SM 21-Johnson 24-107, 12-Medina 3-7, 3-A.Jones 2-1, 10-Gordon 2-(-4), team 1-(-1); P 12-Boggs 8-44, 25-Mathis 3-42, 5-Satterfield-Rowe 10-29, 4-Arbuckle 4-11
Passing: SM 12-Medina 23-39-2-389, 6 TDs; 11-Miller 1-2-0-24; P 4-Arbuckle 43-77-4-643, 6 TDs; 7-Strong 0-1-0-0; team 0-1-0-0
Receiving: SM 8-R.Mitchell 8-147, 85-Bierria 6-79, 10-Gordon 4-117, 3-A.Jones 2-43, 5-Vickers 2-14, 21-Johnson 2-13; P 7-Strong 11-148, 1-Schechter 10-121, 5-Satterfield-Rowe 6-55, 15-Tyrin Stone-Davis 5-120, 19-Kent 5-87, 80-Smith 4-30, 85-Sandland 1-65, 14-Bell 1-17
Sacks-Yds: SM 45-Ford 1-3; P 47-Hale 1-6
Interceptions-Ret Yds: SM 47-D.Mitchell 2-11, 7-Anderson 1-11, 9-Floyd 1-3; P 6-Wilder 1-0, 22-Dash 1-0
Fumble Rec-Ret Yds: SM 23-Pugh 1-0; P 6-Wilder 1-8, 21-Stanton 1-0
Punters: SM 48-Tillman 5-33.8 avg; P 69-Salvati 3-38.0 avg
Kick Returns: SM 10-Gordon 2-51, 23-Pugh 2-33, 21-Johnson 1-35, 33-Hampton 1-5; P 25-Mathis 3-41, 12-Boggs 2-47, 1-Schechter 1-20, team 1-0
Punt Returns: SM 10-Gordon 1-16; P 5-Satterfield-Rowe 1-16, 19-Kent 1-14
Missed FG: none
Notes: Both teams entered 7-1 overall, 5-0 in conference and tied for #15 in Southern California. 92-Manley appeared to block the extra point for Santa Monica. SMC tried an onsides kick after its 3rd TD and Pugh recovered. SMC intercepted Arbuckle 3 times in the last 5:08; Jones' winning TD came after the second of those. Pierce got the ball back one last time with 55 seconds left but turned the ball over on downs at the Brahma 39 with 16.5 seconds left.