by Jim Grimes
The Glendale Community College Gaucho football team is ranked No. 19 nationally according to the current National Junior College Athletic Association.
The Gauchos had announced that they will host the Raiders of Central Lakes College-Brainerd from Minnesota, currently ranked number 8 in the nation with an overall record of 10-1 including a 10-game winning streak.
However, Raiders will not be attending the Valley of the Sun Bowl due to unforeseen academic eligibility issues. Consequently, due to late notice and difficulty making late travel arrangements, several other ranked teams had to decline.
Recently Dave Grant, GCC Athletic Director explained, we decided to invite Mesa Community College to participate and they have agreed to do so. We will still be hosting the Valley of the Sun Bowl Banquet at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on Friday, November 30 at 6 pm, and the game will still be played at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1.
After starting the season with one win and two losses, the Gauchos went on a six game winning streak. During that streak they defeated Arizona Western Community College in Yuma when they were the number 4 ranked team in the nation.
Ironically, the Thunderbirds from Mesa Community College upset the Gauchos at Mesa in the final game of the regular season. The Valley of the Sun Bowl matchup gave the Gauchos a chance to erase the memory of an unexpected loss to the surprising Thunderbirds.
The Thunderbirds received the opening kickoff and successfully moved the ball until they stalled at the Gauchos 33-yard line. After missing a 33-yard field goal attempt, the Gauchos took over. They drove 67-yards and scored a touchdown on a 35-yard pass play giving them a 7-0 lead.
Within minutes the Thunderbirds scored a touchdown to tie the score 7-7.
The Gauchos recaptured the lead several minutes later with a successful field goal giving them a short lived 10-7 lead.
Mesa would capture all the momentum by scoring the next 14 points to take a 21-10 lead.
At that point the determined Gauchos appeared to shift gears as they scored the final two touchdowns of the first half to take a 24-21 lead into the locker room.
The Gauchos continued their momentum in the third and fourth quarters by scoring two more touchdowns while shutting out the frustrated Thunderbirds.
The Gauchos had gone from a 21-10 deficit to a 38-21 lead by scoring 28 unanswered points.
Just when it appeared to be over, the feisty Thunderbirds scored two consecutive touchdowns making the score 38-35.
The Gauchos went on to score one more field goal giving them a 41-35 victory.
The Gauchos now have three bowl wins, in four attempts, in the last four years.
Sophomore quarterback Dain McFarland won most valuable player honors after completing 12 of his 17 passes for 213 yards and 3 touchdowns. McFarland’s touchdowns went to Jesse Tate, who caught two, and Marquise Coleman.
Freshman quarterback Jon Brown also played well, throwing a 72 yard touchdown pass to Jon Green as well as rushing for 108 yards.
Running back Devontre Burkes had 113 yards and a touchdown.
The Glendale defense was led by defensive end Phillip De la Torre who had 11 tackles, linebacker Jordan McFadden with his 9 tackles and safety Ramon Abreu who contributed 8 tackles and a sack.
Kicker Mike Navarro was perfect on the day, hitting two field goals and 5 point after attempts.
Glendale finished the year with an 8-3 record.