El Camino College exploded for 22 points in the second quarter on Saturday night and went on to beat visiting Golden West College 39-20 in the South Coast Conference football finale for both schools.
El Camino, the state's second-ranked team, will meet No. 1 Taft College (10-0) in the PONY Bowl Classic on Dec. 5 at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa. The game will more than likely decide the national title as well.
Taft is ranked No. 1 in the nation, while El Camino (10-0), coming off only the second undefeated regular season in its history, is rated fourth.
Golden West, which was bidding for a bowl berth against Saddleback College, finished 5-4-1.
Last week, El Camino wrapped up its first conference title in 16 years when it defeated Pasadena, 28-22. So it figured that the Warriors might come out a bit loose. In fact, Coach John Featherstone warned his troops earlier in the week not to take the Rustlers lightly.
"They'll come at us breathing fire," he told them.
For most of the first half, however, it was El Camino that lit up the scoreboard.
The Warriors jumped on top, 7-0 with 4:11 left in the first quarter on a nine-yard pass from quarterback Danny Speltz to wide receiver Rickie Wills.
A 28-yard field goal from Dominic Cefalone 2 1/2 minutes into the second period staked the Warriors to a 10-0 lead, but Golden West roared back and within a one-minute span took a four-point lead.
Running back Blaise Bryant showed off the Rustler running game, which ranks No. 1 in the conference, with a 61-yard burst to open Golden West's first scoring drive. Linebacker Dana Florence of El Camino tackled Bryant at the El Camino 21, but five plays later quarterback Bill Marler snuck in from the one-yard line on a third-and-goal play.
Thirty seconds later, a Warrior drive stalled, and Lance Oberparleiter came in to punt for the Warriors from the El Camino 23-yard line.
But the kick was blocked by defensive back Mike Babb--his fifth block of the year--and Golden West recovered at the Warrior four-yard line.
Bryant scored from the one-yard line four plays later for a 14-10 lead.
Speltz, off to a slow start, put the Warriors in front for good with an 83-yard touchdown toss to Dwight Pickens with 6:01 left in the half.
Bryant fumbled 30 seconds later and Bill Hughley of El Camino recovered at the Rustler 28-yard line.
Speltz wasted little time. On the first play from scrimmage, he passed 28 yards over the middle to Pickens for another score.
Tailback Aaron Craver scored on a 28-yard sweep around the right side with 2:29 to go before the half.
Cefalone added a 24-yard field goal with 6:13 left in the third quarter.
El Camino missed a pair of extra point kicks again Saturday night. It was the fifth consecutive game the Warriors have missed at least one point-after-touchdown try.
Golden West blocked another Warriors punt in the third quarter, and Bryant eventually scored to cap a three-play drive that began on the Warrior 29.
The blocked punt was the 12th this season for the Rustlers.