Football Long Beach City College

LBCC Football Falls Just Short Against No. 2 Riverside

It was “good news, bad news” at Veterans Memorial Stadium for the Long Beach City College football team in their season opener Saturday night against Riverside. The good news? There was plenty. The Vikings were in the game against the No. 2 team in the state and had several chances to win it at the end; their defense forced timely turnovers, and QB Will Madonna threw for 440 yards and five touchdowns. The bad news? The Vikings came up just a few plays short, and picked up a loss to start the season, falling 45-40.

“We had every opportunity to win the game, and we didn’t get it done,” said LBCC coach Brett Peabody. “We’ve got three possessions at the end with a chance to go win. I don’t care if you win a game 7-6 or 46-45, but we’ve got to find a way to win these games at the end.”

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The Vikings took a 7-0 lead early in the game while they held the Tigers to three consecutive three-and-outs to start things off. But 21 unanswered points by Riverside put them in a 21-7 hole, and LBCC spent the rest of the game playing catch-up.

Several times the game could have slipped away, and they never let it get more than two scores, as Madonna’s 97-yard touchdown pass to Remil Brown made it 28-21 Tigers at halftime.

Madonna hit Kyle Miller with a 30-yard strike to cut the lead to three points in the third quarter, but Riverside answered with a score. Then Madonna threw a 65-yard touchdown to Cieonta Dvais to cut the lead to 38-34, but Riverside once again answered with a score. The Vikings got another touchdown as Madonna found Kyle Miller to cut the lead to 45-40 with 9:47 left in the game.

The Vikings’ biggest struggle was stringing together good series on offense and defense. When the offense was rolling in the second half, the defense was giving up touchdowns. Then, when the defense held the Tigers scoreless over the final 11 minutes of the game, it was LBCC’s offense that went quiet.

Isaiah Watson forced two fumbles for turnovers in that stretch, Luke Toomalatai had two of his three sacks in that stretch, and Hagen Foreman had an interception as well. Each time the Vikings got the ball with a chance to lead, they were a step off in the passing game, or the Tigers came up with a big sack (all told they brought Madonna down five times in the backfield).

“We had every chance to win it in the fourth quarter, our offense didn’t get it done in three possessions, no excuses,” said Peabody. “We’ll work on getting settled down and clearing up some of those things.”

Still, Peabody couldn’t help but be optimistic about his team’s chances given their success. Madonna finished with 440 passing yards and five touchdowns, and both Brown and Miller had over 100 yards receiving, with four Vikings catching touchdowns. 

“We took a loss, but we have a chance to be a really good football team this year,” said Peabody. “So I’m holding on to that. We’ve got to get to work in practice and get all the little things cleared up.”

The Vikings will travel to Bakersfield next Saturday for their second game of the season.

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Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.