By Nick Spooner
The Glendale Community College Gauchos where defeated, 21-14, by the Phoenix College Bears Aug. 26 in the season opener at Phoenix College.
This was a tightly contested defensive battle; both teams had opportunities to take the lead down the stretch. The Gauchos’ defense even got a huge fourth down stop with under two minutes to go, giving the offense a shot to tie the game up, inside of Bears’ territory. However, an interception thrown by quarterback Akil Abdullah ended the Gauchos’ comeback hopes.
Despite the loss, head coach Mickey Bell was pleased with his team overall. “Defensively, I thought we played really aggressively and, other than two big pass plays, played really well,” Bell said.
“I thought our special teams were pretty solid. We can improve on some things, but we have good athletes. And offensively, we ran the ball effectively. It’s just the quarterback play wasn’t very good.”
The Gauchos’ defense was borderline dominant, sacking Bears’ quarterback, Noah Grover, three times and forcing one fumble that Greg Garret returned for a 20-yard touchdown.
“The schemes we were running were working; we have a great group of linebackers; and the defensive line, corners, and safeties played well other than the two big pass plays,” Bell said.
“Those were busted coverages. The guys are young, but they will learn. Overall, I was really impressed with our defensive play.”
The two pass plays coach Bell alluded to were both touchdowns. One was a 71-yard pass from Grover to wide receiver, Mathew Mitchell, to open the second half, and the other was a 60 harder to receiver, Christian Chavez, to give the bears a 21-7 lead.
Despite falling behind 14, the Gauchos then got a huge kick return, and aided by a 15-yard facemask penalty, received their best starting field position of the night at the Bears’ 31. A few plays later, Akil Abdullah found Jared Beamon in the end zone from 4-yards out and cut the deficit to just 7.
Turnovers, however, really plagued the Gauchos’ offense throughout the game, blocking two field goal attempts, and quarterbacks, Jon Brown and Akil Abdullah, each threw an interception. The offense fumbled the ball three times but recovered all three.
Both quarterbacks received significant playing time. “They graded almost identically. There was some good and bad from both of them. I’d like to go to just one, but neither one has stepped up and separated himself from the other.”
“I was happy with the enthusiasm on the sideline, the fourth down stop by the defense was a huge play for us, and we are excited to have the season underway and excited to go over to Scottsdale this week and play a really good football team,” coach Bell said.