Virgil Bridges threw for 205 yards and three touchdowns to earn MVP honors as the host Laney College football team built a 29-point lead early then held off Diablo Valley for a 29-14 win in the Bay Bowl on Saturday.
"It's always good to come home with an award," Bridges said, toting his MVP trophy. "They did a good job of stopping the run but we were able to come out, throw quick passes and get into the end zone and our defense played a great game. Our defense won the game for us."
The teams had met in the same game a year ago, that time at DVC (5-6). The Vikings pulled out a 30-27 win in that game.
A combination of DVC mistakes and great execution by Laney helped build the lead. The Vikings went three-and-out on three of their first four possessions and didn't get their initial first down until the possession after Laney (8-3) scored to make it 29-0 early in the second quarter.
A 27-yard punt return by Jalen Avery set up the Eagles' first possession at the DVC 29. Tony Parnell then burst loose for a 29-yard touchdown run. On the second play of the Vikings ensuing possession, DVC quarterback Niko Fortuno tried to throw a swing pass to his left, but instead sailed a lateral towards the sideline where it bounced into the end zone and then out of bounds for a safety.
After the free kick, Laney went 52 yards in six plays, scoring on a 9-yard pass from Bridges to Jay Yesin.
The Vikings finally scored on a fake punt when Sione Tupouata threw a short pass to Siua Taufa and Taufa got loose for a 49-yard touchdown. DVC came up empty on several excellent scoring chances in the second half. The Vikings had a first down at the Eagles 20 on their first possession of the third quarter but turned it over on downs. A bad snap on a punt gave DVC a first down at Laney's 30 on its next possession, but on the first play, Fortino was intercepted on a tipped pass by Roderick Adams.
Derrick Johnson blocked a punt for the Vikings on the next possession, giving DVC the ball at the Eagles 15. The Vikings eventually settled for a field goal and couldn't even get that when Steven Thayer hit it short.
Hartnell 37, Contra Costa 26: After trailing the Comets 26-20 early in the fourth quarter, the Panthers scored 17 unanswered points to win the Northern California Football Association's Southern Division title.
"It was a dogfight. (Contra Costa) is a good football team," Hartnell football coach Matt Collins said. "It came down to just a couple of possessions and we were able to capitalize when we needed to. I think that fourth quarter was the difference."
The game featured two of the state's top running backs. Hartnell's De'Andre Mann came into Saturday with a state-leading 1,519 rushing yards, and against Contra Costa, the sophomore carried the ball 27 times for 201 yards and two touchdowns and caught four passes for 52 yards.
Contra Costa's Davonte Sapp-Lynch, a 5-foot-8, 190-pound sophomore, entered the game as the No. 4 rusher in the state with 1,239 yards. He ran for 172 yards on 21 carries and also scored a pair of touchdowns. Sapp-Lynch caught a pair of passes for a total of 25 yards.
"He's a great running back," Mann said about Sapp-Lynch. "He runs low to the ground and it's hard to hit him. He has a bright future, he's just got to keep working hard. He's got a great name behind him, with his big brother, but it ain't just his big brother."
Sapp-Lynch's older brother, Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, was on hand to watch his Sapp-Lynch wrap up his junior college football career.
"The season's over, but football is not," Sapp-Lynch said. "Hopefully I end up with somebody's school, whether it's Division I, Division I-A, I really don't mind. I just want to play football still."
While Sapp-Lynch is waiting for offers to come in or a chance to walk on, Mann has received offers from Football Bowl Subdivision schools including Utah and Purdue. He said he is focused on finishing up school at Hartnell and he will visit some campuses in the coming months.
The 11-point final deficit was the largest in the game as the two team traded off scores repeatedly. Despite the focus on the running game, it was Hartnell receiver Joe Pacheco that scored the eventual game-winning touchdown.
Pacheco separated his left shoulder in Hartnell's win over MPC and only got back to practicing in pads on Thursday. He took a hard hit on his 3-yard touchdown reception that gave the Panthers the lead for good.
"I knew I was going to get cracked man, I knew it," Pacheco said. "All I could think about was, 'Man, this means more to me than me getting hit because that touchdown would put us up.' "
Pacheco hung onto the ball and later caught a 25-yard touchdown pass. He finished the game with five catches for 80 yards.
Hartnell quarterback Curt Ceralde, a North Monterey County High alumnus, finished the game with 235 yards in the air on 18-of-34 passing. He threw two touchdowns, while Contra Costa's Jarmon Coleman jumped a screen pass to pull down Ceralde's only interception.
Contra Costa's Malik Watson went 22 of 40 for 222 yards. He threw a touchdown pass to Terrance Barnes, but also had three interceptions. Tyron Stevens ran for 26 yards and a touchdown for the Comets.
Contra Costa, the Bay Valley champion, finishes the season 7-4. Hartnell, the Coast Conference champion, finishes 9-2. The Panthers beat the Comets 37-34 on Sept. 28 and also beat the Comets by three points in overtime last season.
-- Tommy Wright, Monterey County Herald
Chabot 36, Siskiyous 23: Running back Jayde Rowe scored all three of the Gladiators' touchdowns in the second half as Chabot (8-3) beat host Siskiyous (8-3) in to win the NCFA's Central Division title. Rowe had touchdown runs of 3, 16 and 9 yards and finished with 244 yards on the ground to lead Chabot, which had 439 yards of total offense.
With the score tied at 10 in the second quarter, Stefon Martin caught a 27-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Zach Lujan to give the Gladiators a 16-10 lead. Then with the scored tied 16-16 in the third quarter, Rowe scored the first of his three touchdowns to cap a short drive that began after Blair Broussard returned a kickoff 47 yards to the Siskiyous' 42.
With Chabot leading 30-23 in the fourth quarter, Rowe capped a 79-yard drive with a 9-yard touchdown run to give the Gladiators some insurance with 6:16 left in the game.
Lujan completed 12 of 18 passes for 137 yards and Jake Isabel caught eight passes for 81 yards in the win.