For all the impressive offensive numbers the San Bernardino Valley College football team has put up this season, the pressure has not been on the Wolverines' defense to make the "big play" when it counts.
Saturday night, they did.
Holding on to a 20-14 lead, SBVC's Jess Ybarra sacked Pasadena City College quarterback Kade Wentz at the SBVC 15-yard-line with 15 seconds remaining, and the Lancers out of timeouts. Wentz spiked the ball with three ticks remaining for one last chance. Wentz's throw to the end zone was intercepted by Claude Dent, and the Wolverines escaped with a six-point win.
The Wolverines trailed early, as the Lancers' opening drive was extended by a roughing the passer penalty that gave Pasadena a first down after a third-and-13 pass went incomplete. The Lancers took advantage of it, as quarterback Edward Norton scampered inside the front corner of the end zone and a 7-0 lead.
SBVC got on the board two drives later, as quarterback Jeremy Moussa scrambled out of trouble and had nothing but open space in front of him for an 18-yard touchdown run. The Wolverines went for two, but Moussa's pass was deflected away, giving the Lancers a one-point lead it would hold though the half.
The Wolverines offense seemed to get back on track in the third quarter, as Moussa hit Dionzae Nolan II in the front of the end zone for the score, and a 12-7 lead, after failing on another two-point try. On the next SBVC drive, Moussa hit Latavion Staples, who shook a tackler and sprinted up the sideline for a 57-yard touchdown. Kade Greeley caught Moussa's pass on the two-point attempt for a 20-7 lead.
Pasadena, however, did not go away. In the fourth quarter, on a fourth-and-2 at their own 44, punter Jonathan Borashan hit Gary Chew with a pass for the 2 yards and a first down. On the next play, Daniel Centeno got the ball on a reverse end-around and found daylight up the sideline for a 54-yard score. Bracamonte Busto's kick put the Lancers within six with 6:38 remaining.
The Wolverines recovered the ensuing onside kick, but a holding penalty negated a 23-yard touchdown pass from Moussa to Koale Schroeder, and an added unsportsmanlike conduct penalty put SBVC back near midfield, forcing them to punt.
After holding Pasadena on a fourth-and-7 at the Lancers' 27 with 2:41 to go, the Wolverines looked ready to put the dagger in the Lancers' chances. But Shane Andrews punched the ball out of Darrell Turner Jr.'s hands, and the ball was recovered by Andy Reyes at the Pasadena 17 to set up the final drive.
The Wolverines offense racked up only 404 yards of offense of the night, and Moussa was held to a season-low 262 yards on 17-of-35 passing with two interceptions. And, as has become a pattern, the Wolverines were slowed by penalties, as they committed 16 times for 164 yards.
Meanwhile, SBVC's defense held Pasadena to only 287 yards of offense, as they sacked Pasadena's quarterbacks six times for 56 yards and made 11 tackles for losses of 62 yards.