NORWALK, Calif. – It took a decade, but No. 9 El Camino College can call itself a league champion again after an epic comeback victory over No. 13 Cerritos at Falcon Field.
Running back Sean Davenport punched in the go-ahead touchdown with 1:36 left in regulation and defensive back Isaiah Lemos picked off Falcons' (6-4, 3-2) quarterback Isaiah Bravo with 13 seconds left to seal a 21-20 win and give the Warriors (8-2, 5-0) the National Division, Central League title along with the Milk Can Trophy, which goes to the winner of the game between the Falcons and Warriors.
The division title is ECC's first since 2008 when they were co-champions with Mount San Antonio College in the National Central Conference. It was the Warriors first outright conference or division title since 2005 when they finished the regular season undefeated and won the Mission Conference, National Division crown.
The Warriors took home the title despite being outgained offensively 524-294 by the Falcons. Davenport led the offense with 23 carries and 78 yards with the eventual game-winning score. Quinn Perry led the defense with 11 tackles (3 solo) and 0.5 sacks. His pick-six with 12:06 left in regulation pulled the Warriors within six points at 20-14.
It was the defense as a whole that kept the Warriors in the game, recording five takeaways on the night including three fumbles, two of them in the first half. The Warriors were held scoreless in the first half and accumulated less than 100 yards of total offense but the defense's takeaways kept it a 7-0 deficit at the break.
After a Cerritos touchdown early in the third made it a two-possession game, the Warriors offense responded with an 18-play, 83-yard scoring drive capped by a one-yard touchdown from Jeff Hansen to bring the deficit back to seven points.
The Falcons would score again just before the end of the third quarter on a 13-yard touchdown pass but the extra point was blocked by the Warriors, making it a 20-7 ballgame.
That proved pivotal as the Falcons would not score again and Perry's interception return for a touchdown cut the deficit to six.
It would stay quiet until the Warriors final offensive possession of the game. The Falcons pinned the Warriors deep in their own territory as Aaron Thomas and the offense began the drive on their own 6-yard line with 8:57 left.
The offense would put together an incredible 20-play, 94-yard scoring drive that included two fourth-down conversions. The first came on 4th-and-10 at the Cerritos 23 when Thomas threw it toward Trevon Clark. The pass was incomplete but a defensive holding penalty on the play gave ECC an automatic first down and renewed life.
They'd get the ball to the 4-yard line but faced a 4th-and-1. Davenport came through with a 3-yard run to get a new set of downs and he would punch in the touchdown on the next play to tie things up 20-20.
Omar Beltran then kicked the extra point through and gave ECC the lead with 1:30 left.
Once again, the defense for ECC held firm as Lemos secured the win with his Southern California Football Association-leading seventh interception of the season with 13 seconds left.
The Warriors will now await to find out who they will face in the CCCAA State Championship playoffs, which will begin next Saturday. Time and location will be announced Sunday on the SCFA website.