It's not difficult to pinpoint the reasons behind the Southwest College football team's 14-6 defeat against Santa Barbara Saturday. The Cougars committed six turnovers--three interceptions and three lost fumbles--in the Western State Conference opener at Southwest.
"We shot ourselves in the foot," said Southwest Coach Henry Washington.
Yet the Cougars, who had been trailing, 14-0, with less than two minutes to play, still had a chance to tie the score on the final play. The rally, however, came up short as Southwest fell to 0-2.
With the ball on the Santa Barbara 14-yard line and with no time remaining, quarterback Bradley Freeman, scrambling under heavy pressure, hooked up with Katia Ransom on a short pass up the middle. Ransom, however, was dragged down at the 13-yard line to end the game.
"It was a heartbreaker, but that's what this game is all about," Freeman said. "I thought we were going to punch it in and at least have a chance to take the two-point conversion."
Freeman, a 6-foot, 200-pound freshman who completed 10 of 26 passes for 154 yards, had scored on a one-yard sneak with 1 minute 48 seconds to play to bring Southwest to within 14-6. The two-point conversion failed and Santa Barbara (1-1) also recovered the on-side kick.
Southwest stopped the Vaqueros on downs. The Cougars, who had no timeouts, took possession at their own 29-yard line with 34 seconds to play. Freeman and Tyrone Gallien teamed on a 41-yard pass to move the ball to the Santa Barbara 30-yard line with 22 seconds to play.
The clock ticked down to eight seconds after two incomplete passes. The Vaqueros had appeared to seal the victory after a pass from Freeman to Terrance Parker fell incomplete at the one-yard line as time expired.
The Cougars, however, were given one more chance when Santa Barbara defensive back Mike Latham was called for pass interference to advance the ball to the 14-yard line.
"The kids didn't give up, and that was a plus," Washington said. "The kids kept fighting defensively and offensively. If we would have hit a few plays we would have been right there. We were right in there."
The Cougars had their share of scoring opportunities. Southwest drove inside the Santa Barbara 10-yard line twice, but failed to score.
"The offense made mistakes," Gallien said. "We didn't catch passes. We didn't hold on to the ball. It was a lack of concentration. Other than that we were a perfect team. If we put our heads together, we could be a great ballclub."
Gallien caught five passes for 110 yards. Ransom, returning from an ankle injury which forced him to sit out the Cougars' 20-6 loss to Citrus Sept. 18, rushed for 57 yards in eight carries.
Santa Barbara quarterback Jerrod DeGeorgia, who passed for 311 yards in the Santa Barbara's 27-22 season-opening loss to Hancock, completed 11 of 23 passes Saturday.
DeGeorgia connected with Ricky Demarest on a 19-yard touchdown pass with 5:31 before halftime and Dan Harnish's extra point made the score 14-0.
Demarest had three receptions for 49 yards and Rick Solesbee had 55 yards in eight carries for Santa Barbara.
A Southwest miscue helped Santa Barbara open a 7-0 first-quarter advantage.
Southwest center Massi Williams snapped the ball over punter Sheldon Anderson. Anderson was tackled for a 31-yard loss, giving the Vaqueros possession at the Southwest 13-yard line. Four plays later, DeGeorgia plunged in for a one-yard score with 3:40 left in the first quarter.