17-Point Comeback Launches Monarchs Past No. 25 Vaqueros

Two touchdown receptions by sophomore Dupree Fuller Jr. and game-winning catch by sophomore Daniel Del Villar propelled the Monarchs to a 34-30 win against the Vaqueros.

By Edward Segal, Staff Writer

Valley quarterback Isaiah Johnson tries to evade the defense against No, 25 Santa Barbara City College at Valley College on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. (Ava Rosate/The Valley Star)

The Monarchs pulled off a possible season transforming upset over the No. 25 Vaqueros, rallying in the second half for a comeback win.

Valley College football (2-5, SCFA 1-1) ended its two-game losing streak against California Community College Sports Information Association’s No. 25 ranked team Santa Barbara City College (4-2, SCFA 1-1) in dramatic fashion on Saturday night. With four touchdown passes and one rushing touchdown by sophomore quarterback Isaiah Johnson, Valley was productive enough in the second half to defeat their conference opponents and come away with a 34-30 victory.

While Valley’s other quarterbacks suffered injuries in the first game against Mt. San Antonio College, the fourth quarterback, Johnson, who was initially a left back, stepped up and had his most efficient performance of the season.

The Vaqueros opened the game with a 17-0 lead, and at halftime looked to be in control following a touchdown pass that put them up 24-7, but the Monarchs pushed back in the third quarter, holding the Vaqueros scoreless. The defensive effort after halftime provided the extra spark for the Monarchs to escape with a four point victory.

Before the game, coach Lester Towns told the team to control the ball - this being an area of concern following last week’s loss to Antelope Valley College in which dropped passes were a big factor in the Monarchs’ downfall.

On the first play of the game, sophomore defensive back JaLani Ellison returned the Vaqueros’ kickoff for 45 yards, only to fumble when being tackled, turning the ball over from the get-go. After Santa Barbara got off to a 17-0 lead, they looked to add to it by risking a fourth down conversion, only to have the ball stripped and recovered by freshman Elijah Hudson.

On the next play, the Vaqueros’ turnover turned into points for the Monarchs when sophomore wide receiver Dallas Martin caught a 57-yard touchdown pass from Johnson, cutting the deficit to 10.

The momentum looked to have shifted, but it was not until the second half that the Monarchs picked up their intensity.

“Focus on what we can control” was Towns’ message to the team at halftime. He emphasized “doing the little things right.”

The game turned around for Valley following multiple stops on the defensive end, as well as back-to-back touchdown receptions by sophomore wide receiver Dupree Fuller Jr. in the third quarter that made the score 24-21.

The Monarch’s defense stifled the Vaqueros, holding them to one touchdown in the second half which came off an interception from the Monarch’s 13-yard line, putting the Vaqueros up 30-21 in the fourth quarter. The Monarchs quickly answered, with Johnson rushing 2 yards for a touchdown to make it 30-27.

The Vaqueros were 3 yards away from icing the game with under three minutes left, but two deflected passes led to another failed fourth down conversion, giving the Monarchs the ball with 2:45 left to play.

The Monarchs defeated the Vaqueros in a 17-point comeback victory on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. (Ava Rosate/The Valley Star)

One accurate pass after another by Johnson gave the Monarchs an opportunity at first-and-goal to take the lead. With nine seconds left, Johnson threw a 9-yard pass to sophomore wide receiver Daniel Del Villar for the game-winning touchdown.

“This is when it’s fun, when I see you guys compete,” Towns told the team in a huddle.

Johnson finished the night completing 34-48 passes for 339 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.

After the game, the Monarchs celebrated their first division win thanks to Del Villar’s first touchdown of the season.

"The hardest thing is keeping them focused after a win," said Towns. "[Making] sure they continue to put in the work ethic."

The Monarchs’ next game is at home on Saturday, Oct. 30 at 6 p.m. against Moorpark College, where they will attempt to win two games in a row for the first time this season.

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