Photo by Ed Beyer
SAN JACINTO - The Marauder football team has to have a short memory.
Forget about last week's uncharacteristic performance in a loss to College of the Desert in which the Marauder blew a 22-point lead and committed a school record in penalties and penalty yards.
That's all in the past. Saturday afternoon was a new game against a dangerous Mt. San Jacinto team.
"We came out in the second half better than we have all year," freshman running back DJ Payne said. "It was a different kind of energy that we haven't had all year."
That meant bad news for the Eagles.
With the score tied at half, AVC came out on a mission and outscored host Mt. San Jacinto 24-0 in the final two quarters of the game en route to an easy 31-7 victory, Saturday night, erasing any memories of its loss to the Roadrunners only a week prior.
"I thought our defense played a real complete game. Offensively we made some adjustments at halftime and we played much better in the second half," AVC head coach Perry Jehlicka said. "(In the second half) we played with a couple of short fields. Our offensive line played much better and we were able to move the football. We have to be consistent week in and week out."
The Marauders (2-3) took a 14-7 lead on one of those short fields Jehlicka referred to after a 2-play drive which resulted in a 4-yard touchdown run by Payne. Leading 17-7 a blocked punt by Clifton Jordan who scooped up the ball and returned it for a 20-yard score gave AVC a 24-7 lead.
"Anytime you get a punt block (for a touchdown) and two interceptions you have a high percentage to win the game," Jehlicka said. "We're feeling good today."
AVC's defense, which struggled at times against COD, was back to its usual stingy self, playing physical and flying after the ball. It held the Eagles' (2-2) two most explosive weapons, quarterback Sheriron Jones and running back Jomari Becnal, in check the entire game.
The Marauders' defense served as the kryptonite for Jones, who was a highly touted recruit coming out of high school and who transferred to Mt. San Jacinto from the University of Tennessee. He was picked off twice and completed only 44 percent of his passes. Jones finished the game 21-of-48 for 217 yards.
For the second year in a row Becnal was bottled up by the Marauders. He rushed for only 34 yards on seven carries, one of those carries coming for more than half of his total yards.
Becnal was outdueled by Payne, as Payne, after having his coming out party last week against the Roadrunners, finished with 57 yards on 12 carries and two scores. Payne capped off the Marauders' onslaught only two minutes following Jordan's touchdown, with a 16-yard touchdown run with 11:41 remaining in the fourth quarter.
"I thought we played better on both sides of the ball today. Our special teams really killed it," said Payne. "I thought it was a great win. It was a definite confidence boost and we're right back where we should be. I know we stumbled in a few games, but today we came together as a team. We still have things to work on, but overall we played well in every aspect of the game."
Next week AVC has its bye week which couldn't come at a better time according to Jehlicka who said he has seven or eight guys hurt.
"We should get everyone healthy and back. We had to grind through this week and this bye gives them a chance to heal up," he said. "We have seven practices before we play again and get ready for November when it really means something."
AVC's next game will be at home on Oct. 14 against Citrus College at 6pm.