By Nick Spooner
The Glendale Community College Gauchos football team defeated the Mesa Thunderbirds 35-24 on Saturday, Oct. 14 in a game played at MCC.
“I thought we played hard and eliminated the mental mistakes for the most part. We had a couple mental breakdowns, but I told the team we have ability when we put our heads together with the ability this is what we can do,” Gauchos head coach Mikey Bell said.
The Gauchos offense was able to move the ball with relative ease against the Mesa defense especially in the second half, where the Gauchos went on a 21-0 run to close out the ball game.
“I thought the offense did a great job, putting together long sustained drives. I thought Akil did a great job. The way he played this week versus last week is 100% better,” Bell said.
Gauchos quarterback Akil Abdullah had a solid game for the Gauchos. He got off to a rough start after throwing an interception early but was able to quickly rebound and contribute significantly to GCC’s offensive success, running for two touchdowns and throwing for another.
“[Akil] is starting to figure it out a little bit. He’s got a ton of ability. He will make a couple of mental mistakes but also with his athleticism gets us out of some bad situations. He is a part of our run game. He is our quarterback because of that,” Bell said.
“Me running the ball opens up a lot in the passing game, they have to honor our ability to run the ball,” Abdullah said.
The Gauchos offense was also aided by several big plays from their defense; they intercepted Mesa quarterback Christian Lopez three times in the fourth quarter. DJ Charles came away with two interceptions and ran one all the way back to the two-yard line. Antwuan Woodberry also got his hands on a football that enabled the offense to burn more than three minutes off the clock.
“It hypes us up when we see our defense do well. We feel like we have to re-pay them and make something happen. When we see our defense make big plays, we have to make big plays,” Abdullah said.
The Gauchos were defeated by Mesa, 66-61, in their first match-up of the season in Glendale.
“We just can’t throw the stupid picks. Last game, we threw a pick-six. This game we only threw the one, but it was an offside against them. That was a free play for us, and it didn’t get called,” Bell said.
Coach Bell also said he was pleased with the way his defense performed.
“Our defense played great in the first half. They blocked one of our punts and returned it for a touchdown, but we came out in the second half and got some big plays and got some big picks. We didn’t give up the long touchdowns. They had a great catch from their receiver in the end zone, but that was just a great catch,” Bell said.
The Gauchos have a bye week this week but return home on Oct. 26 for a game against Arizona Western.