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Vaqueros pound Santa Monica, 41-0

Chase Elliott (35) and Andreas Buri (48) led a swarming Vaquero defense to its second shutout of the year. (Photo by Ken Sciallo/Sevilla Photography)
Chase Elliott (35) and Andreas Buri (48) led a swarming Vaquero defense to its second shutout of the year. (Photo by Ken Sciallo/Sevilla Photography)

SBCC's offense came alive and the defense was stifling on Saturday as the Vaqueros walloped Santa Monica 41-0 for their first APL football win at La Playa Stadium.

The Vaqueros (2-7, 1-3) snapped a seven-game slide by posting season highs in rushing (244 yards), passing (202 yards), total yards (446) and first downs (24). The defense held the Corsairs (4-5, 2-2) to 273 total yards and 12 first downs.

Quarterback Franco De Luca had his best game of the year, completing 16-of-19 passes for 202 yards and three touchdowns. Clifton Taylor ran for a season-high 116 yards on 25 carries with a touchdown and Tamir Walker added 99 rushing yards on just eight carries for a 12.4 average.

"I'm proud of our guys, we just beat a 4-4 team that beat Pasadena last week and L.A. Harbor before that," said coach Craig Moropoulos. "Offensively, we got things rolling and our defense has been playing solid all year long. This was a great team win.

"We were able to run the football. Frankie keeps getting better every week, he came into his own today. We weren't afraid to throw the ball and he threw it accurately. He's throwing it confidentally and that's what I really like about him."

The Vaqueros averaged 7.4 yards a play while holding the Corsairs to 4.1 yards.

SBCC scored on its first possession after the Corsairs turned it over on downs at the SBCC 30. They went 70 yards in seven plays and De Luca was 3-3 passing, capped by a 37-yard TD connection to Leland Gropper.

On the first play of the second quarter, the left-handed De Luca rolled to his left, then delivered a throwback screen to Tommy Quinn and he rumbled into the end zone for the 19-yard score and a 14-0 lead.

"It's amazing how we came together after struggling for most of the year," said De Luca, a 6-2 freshman from Chicago. "We kept fighting and fighting and gave it everything we had.

"I've been working every week, staying after practice and working with the QBs who went down and our coaches. It's been great, I feel way more comfortable with the plays and the reads. Nick Foster is great, anything you throw to him, he's going to catch."

The Vaqueros drove 66 yards for their third TD with Walker gaining 28 and 9 yards on back-to-back runs. Taylor ran through a big hole created by center Jake Tourtillotte and guard Bradley Labelle for a 4-yard TD that put the Vaqueros ahead 21-0 with 6:47 to go in the second quarter

Foster, who made an outstanding one-hand catch at Hancock last week, caught five balls for 77 yards. He out-leaped a defender for a 38-yard TD pass to make it 28-0 late in the third quarter. .

Chase Elliott and Andreas Buri led the defense with 10 tackles each. Buri, a sophomore linebacker from Switzerland, intercepted a third-quarter pass at his 37 and returned it 17 yards to the SMC 46. Four plays later, Walker scored easily on a 16-yard pitch toss to the left, boosting the margin to 35-0.

"It feels so good to get a win," said Elliott. "The offense held us up and kept us off the field. That gave us a little more energy and we just shut them down. We played with more heart.

"We played our butts off on defense and I'm proud of all our boys. This will be a great momentum-booster heading into next week."

Gropper caught five passes for 62 yards and Ashkan Allen picked up 44 rushing yards on the Vaqueros' last possession, running for 6, 27, 8 and finally 3 yards into the end zone for a 41-0 lead with 3:55 to play.

SBCC will play its season finale on Saturday when Pasadena City College comes to La Playa for a 1 p.m. game.