Pierce (6-1, 4-0) saw a 21-point first-half lead disappear entirely, and saw Santa Barbara (6-1, 3-1) keep rallying from deficits in the second half, but built a 25-point lead after a pair of touchdowns following Vaquero turnovers. But the victory wasn't secure until Shaquan Hall recovered an onsides kick attempt after Santa Barbara's last touchdown with 1:48 left, finally securing the win for the Brahmas.
It was a wild game, typical of the American-Pacific, that saw the teams combine for 95 points, over 200 yards in penalties and over 800 yards of offense. Arbuckle threw four touchdown passes in the second half to propel Pierce to the win, while Jarred Evans came off the bench for Santa Barbara to pass for 188 yards and 2 touchdowns and lead the Vaquero comebacks.
Pierce jumped out to a 21-0 first-half lead, starting with a 12-play, 94-yard drive that ended with a 2-yard touchdown run by Calvin Howard midway through the first quarter. Arbuckle threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Kolodny later in the first quarter, and scored himself on a 3-yard run early in the second quarter shortly after an interception by Andrew McCrea, and the Brahmas were seemingly on their way to an easy win with a 21-0 lead.
But Santa Barbara battled back, starting with two touchdowns late in the first half. Evans replaced starter Bruce Shipley, who played two series to begin the game but was sacked twice and never actually threw a pass attempt. Evans scored on an 8-yard run with 3:07 left in the first half to get the Vaqueros on the board. Then Mike “The Great Dane” Petersen, a bruising 226-pound running back from Denmark, scored on a 1-yard run in the final minute of the first half to make it 21-14 at the break.
Santa Barbara tied the game early in the third quarter on a trick play that started as an end-around. Then the ball was pitched to receiver Giovanni Sanders for an apparent reverse. But Sanders stopped cold and lofted a long pass across the field to a wide-open Jacob Arnell, who scored on the 34-yard play to tie the score at 21 just 2:20 into the second half.
But it took less than three minutes for Pierce to go back into the lead with a big play of its own, and the Brahmas led the rest of the way. Arbuckle found deceptively speedy receiver Bryson Martinez for a 54-yard touchdown pass to give Pierce a 27-21 lead, though the extra point was blocked by SBCC's Marquis Cobb. Then after a Vaquero punt, Arbuckle found Justin Zepeda for a 25-yard touchdown pass and Daniel Schlorf's extra point made it 34-21, putting Pierce back in control. And another Vaquero punt gave Pierce the ball as the third quarter wound down.
Again, however, Santa Barbara got a big play to get right back in the game when Tavonte Jackson intercepted an Arbuckle pass and returned it 69 yards for a touchdown with 5.9 seconds left in the third quarter to get the Vaqueros back within a score at 34-28.
But again, Pierce answered with a big play of its own moments later, as Arbuckle quickly atoned for his interception by throwing another short pass to Martinez that the 6-2 freshman from New Mexico turned into a 65-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Pierce extended its lead on two touchdowns that followed turnovers, with Arbuckle throwing a 19-yard touchdown pass to Michael Gilliam with 9:53 left, capping a 10-play drive that began when the Brahmas recovered an SBCC fumble. Then, after an interception by DeAndre Jordan, DeShawn Jones broke free for a 52-yard touchdown run with 8:23 left that made it 53-28 and seemed to again put Pierce in control of the game.
One last time, Santa Barbara rallied, scoring twice in the final six-plus minutes to get within 11 points. Evans threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Sanders with 6:01 left to make it 53-35. And he threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Sterling Cash with 1:48 left to make it 53-42. On the ensuing kickoff, SBCC's Ryan Rickel tried an onsides kick. But Hall recovered for Pierce, finally clinching the win for the Brahmas.
Arbuckle finished 21 for 33 passing for 397 yards and 5 touchdowns, and added the touchdown run as well. Martinez had 4 catches for 142 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Isaiah Nelson led the Brahmas with 5 catches, good for 75 yards. Jones rushed for 109 yards on 15 carries and scored a touchdown. The Brahma defense registered 5 quarterback sacks, driving Shipley from the game early on, and also forced 3 Vaquero turnovers.
For Santa Barbara, Evans completed 14 of 24 passes for 188 yards and 2 touchdowns, and he also rushed 17 times for 27 yards and a touchdown. Peterson carried the ball 12 times for 55 yards and a score. Arnell caught 5 passes for 71 yards and a touchdown, and also had a 55-yard kickoff return and a 57-yard punt return.
The win keeps Pierce in a tie for first place in the American-Pacific with also-unbeaten Santa Monica. The Brahmas travel to Lancaster to take on Antelope Valley next Saturday afternoon. SBCC returns home to host Santa Monica. Unfortunately, both games are at 1 pm, forcing a tough choice for followers of the always-exciting American-Pacific.
L.A. Pierce Brahmas 53, Santa Barbara Vaqueros 42
Saturday, October 26, 2013 - 7 pm – John Shepard Stadium - Woodland Hills
American Division - Pacific Conference
P - Howard 2 yd run (Schlorf kick) 7:27 (7-0)
P - Kolodny 13 yd pass from Arbuckle (Schlorf kick) 3:41 (14-0)
P - Arbuckle 3 yd run (Schlorf kick) 4:53 (21-0)
SB - Evans 10 yd run (Hoerberg kick) 3:07 (21-7)
SB - Petersen 1 yd run (Hoerberg kick) 0:35.2 (21-14)
SB - J.Arnell 34 yd pass from Sanders (Hoerberg kick) 12:40 (21-21)
P - Martinez 54 yd pass from Arbuckle (kick blocked) 9:54 (27-21)
P - Zepeda 25 yd pass from Arbuckle (Schlorf kick) 5:37 (34-21)
SB - Jackson 69 yd interception (Hoerberg kick) 0:05.9 (34-28)
P - Martinez 65 yd pass from Arbuckle (kick blocked) 14:50 (40-28)
P - Gilliam 19 yd pass from Arbuckle (pass incomplete) 9:53 (46-28)
P - Jones 52 yd run (Schlorf kick) 8:23 (53-28)
SB - Sanders 23 yd pass from Evans (Hoerberg kick) 6:01 (53-35)
SB - Cash 33 yd pass from Evans (Hoerberg kick) 1:48 (53-42)
First Downs: Pierce 24 (7 rush, 16 pass, 1 penalty), Santa Barbara 23 (7 rush, 10 pass, 6 penalty)
Rushes-Yds: Pierce 43-161, Santa Barbara 38-81
Passing Yds: Pierce 397, Santa Barbara 222
Comp-Att-Int: Pierce 21-34-1, Santa Barbara 15-25-2
Return Yds: Pierce 122, Santa Barbara 250
Sacks-Yds: Pierce 5-34, Santa Barbara 3-17
Fumbles-Lost: Pierce 1-0, Santa Barbara 2-1
Penalties-Yds: Pierce 22-175, Santa Barbara 9-77
Time of Possession: Pierce 33:33, Santa Barbara 26:27
Rushing: P 2-Jones 15-109, 3-Howard 16-63, 4-Arbuckle 7-7, 12-Ahmadi 1-(-5), team 4-(-13); SB 28-Petersen 12-55, 8-Evans 17-27, 20-Hustead 3-8, 32-Walton 1-2, 5-T.Brown 1-(-1), 6-Shipley 4-(-10)
Passing: P 4-Arbuckle 21-33-1-397, 5 TDs; 85-Ubosi 0-1-0-0; SB 8-Evans 14-24-2-188, 2 TDs; 85-Sanders 1-1-0-34, 1 TD
Receiving: P 9-Nelson 5-75, 81-Martinez 4-142, 2-Jones 3-17, 21-Davis 2-50, 8-Hall 2-30, 88-Zepeda 1-25, 23-Gilliam 1-19, 80-Ijalana 1-14, 44-Kolodny 1-13, 85-Ubosi 1-12; SB 3-J.Arnell 5-71, 85-Sanders 3-44, 28-Petersen 2-30, 30-Poling 2-30, 20-Hustead 2-14, 17-Cash 1-33
Sacks-Yds: P 38-Glass 1-13, 14-A.Williams 1-7, 90-Allonce 1-6, 91-Aschoff 1-6, 11-J.Johnson 1-2; SB 33-Nevin 2-12, 60-Terry 1-5
Interceptions-Ret Yds: P 27-McCrea 1-35, 24-Jordan 1-6; SB 14-Jackson 1-69
Punters: P 64-Schlorf 6-35.0 avg; SB 43-Gleeson 6-38.9 avg
Kick Returns: P 30-Brahm 3-68; SB 3-J.Arnell 2-61, 22-Higbyj 2-27, 23-Petti 1-15, 20-Hustead 1-11
Punt Returns: P 5-Myles 3-13; SB 3-J.Arnell 3-67
Missed FG: P none; SB 99-Hoerberg 39 yds (wide left)
Notes: Santa Barbara entered ranked #1 in American Division and undefeated at 6-0 overall and 3-0 in conference; Pierce entered 5-1, 3-0 in conference, ranked #3 in American Division. Shipley started at QB for SBCC; he didn't attempt a pass but was sacked twice. Evans entered for the third series and played most of the rest of the way. Arnell's TD came on a flanker option play, as did Ubosi's pass attempt. 7-Cobb blocked the first XPA for SBCC; 94-Lockwood blocked the second one. Pierce's last 2 TDs came after turnovers; Gilliam's TD came after the fumble recovery and Jones' TD came after Jordan's interception. SBCC tried an onsides kick after its last TD but 8-Hall recovered for Pierce.