San Diego Mesa gave Long Beach City College every chance to take the game on Saturday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium. But in return, LBCC made a plethora of miscues to give it right back in a 45-34 defeat.
“It’s incredibly disappointing to see the sloppiness that we still have four games in,” LBCC coach Brett Peabody said. “There’s no excuses. We’re sloppy, we’re not accountable and we need to get better in a hurry.”
A blocked punt set up the first touchdown for San Diego Mesa, the LBCC offense wasted trips into the red zone in the first half and the LBCC defense couldn’t get San Diego Mesa (3-1) off the field in the second half. LBCC had a penalty take points off the board and the Vikings also turned the ball over at inopportune times.
“We are a young team and that’s not an excuse because we try to explain over and over that when you play (a tough schedule in the national division) the margin between who is better than who isn’t very big,” Peabody added. “If you make mistakes like we made tonight this is the end result of what you get.”
San Diego Mesa led 24-21 at halftime after the second touchdown pass from Blaze McKibbin to Zack Leets got LBCC (2-2) within one score, but the Vikings couldn’t stop the Olympians in the clutch moments. San Diego Mesa converted five of its eight third downs in the second half, and picked up all four of its fourth down attempts.
“Give Mesa credit, they had a couple play calls that got us,” Peabody said. “We adjusted but we didn’t tackle as well and we just didn’t make the plays. We had opportunities that were there and we didn’t get it done.”
Peabody said the LBCC offense made significant improvements with McKibbin coming off the bench to call the signals. The quarterback completed 16 of his 26 pass attempts for 209 yards and two touchdowns. Both scores came on impressive catches from Leets, who finished with five receptions for 102 yards.
“I thought Blaze McKibbin made a real statement tonight,” Peabody said. “We’ve been going back and forth (with quarterbacks) as everyone knows, and that’s been tough, but I thought he really stepped up.”
The Vikings running game was effective as Rodney Clemente Jr. rushed for 103 yards on 14 attempts. Saeed Galloway scored a touchdown and Elijah Davis added two more in the fourth quarter.
San Diego Mesa quarterback Gunnar Gray had the best stat line of the night with 369 yards and three touchdowns. He completed 21 of his 37 pass attempts. Six different Olympians scored touchdowns.
LBCC had its first punt of the game blocked and that allowed San Diego Mesa to take a 3-0 lead. The Vikings responded quickly after a long Clemente Jr. run set up a Galloway touchdown to take their only lead of the day.
San Diego Mesa scored three plays later thanks to a 69-yard touchdown from Gray to Desean Owens to retake the 10-7 lead for good.
A pair of interceptions by former Moore Leaguers Jayden Davis and De’Jon Vanhook gave LBCC the ball in San Diego Mesa territory, but miscues killed both drives and the Vikings were turned away scoreless.
San Diego Mesa scored twice more before halftime, but the Leets touchdowns kept LBCC in the game.
After missing a field goal, San Diego Mesa scored on its last three drives of the night to maintain its lead. LBCC scored on the last play of the game to make the score more respectable.
Peabody thinks a couple corrections during practice this week can get his team back on track.
“Put it on me, I’ve got to do a better job and hold these guys accountable,” Peabody said. “We’ve got to coach them harder and get them ready against a good Golden West team.”
Golden West upset top-ranked Riverside on Saturday. LBCC will travel to Orange County on Saturday afternoon.