SAN JOSE – Most football coaches will tell you that three turnovers are extremely difficult to win. But there the youth-laden Cabrillo College Seahawks were Saturday, on the road and in contention, driving for the go-ahead score late in the fourth quarter.
It was their fourth turnover that killed them. San Jose City defensive back Tanner Jones snatched the ball from running back Kobe Hatten and ran 10 yards to pounce on the loose ball as the Jaguars held the Seahawks 17-14 in the game opening of the Coastal Teams Conference in front of a few hundred inflamed fans.
It was a crushing loss for the Seahawks, who have only two sophomores on their roster.
“Closing is not enough,” said Justin Hansen, the Seahawks’ first-year head coach. “It was not what we wanted. We are not looking for moral victories here. The boys played hard and they know it. They know we love them and care about them, but, again, it’s not a sport where we try to play well and try to play close. So yeah, it wasn’t good enough today.
San Jose City (2-2, 1-0) took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. The Jaguars, behind the arm of sophomore quarterback Jared Julian, rushed for 64 yards in nine plays on their first offensive streak. His legs weren’t too bad either: he dodged a sack and scored from 16 yards out on a play of third-and-five.
The Jaguars extended their lead on Roland Legaspi’s 37-yard field goal with 1:24 left in the first stanza. The score was a shot in the arm for Cabrillo’s relentless defense as SJCC started the series at the Seahawks 40-yard line.
The Seahawks defense bailed out their offense time and time again. Cabrillo quarterback Oscar Magana threw the first of his three interceptions in the following series, and Yasir Talib-Harrison was about to register a pick six when Hatten caught him from behind for a life-saving touchdown tackle at the Seahawks 6-yard line. . SJCC returned the ball on tries at the 3-yard line.
SJCC went 17-0 early in the second quarter. Scotts Valley alum Andre Nice returned a punt to Cabrillo’s 35 and Julian connected with receiver Casey Collins, another Falcons alum, on the next play.
Cabrillo (1-4, 0-1) kept the Jaguars from taking advantage of Nicholas Morris’ interception in the second quarter. Kenyon Vaughns recorded a sack to help force the SJCC to pitch, and the Seahawks offense fed on the momentum.
Magana completed a pair of big-paying passes to Hatten and Brandon George to set up Hatten’s 2-yard run and cap a 55-yard drive in three plays.
In the third quarter, the Seahawks took a break when Legaspi’s 44-yard hit hit the crossbar and bounced into the end zone.
But Cabrillo’s attack struggled to regain the form it had shown in his goalscoring training.
Early in the fourth quarter, SJCC’s Jaqualyn Greene recorded his team’s third interception. Once again, Cabrillo’s defense came in strong. Matt Flores-Ortiz recorded a sack and Jacob Zielin, playing with a left-hand cast, recorded an interception on the next payday.
“Everyone’s dog is here; everyone has that competitiveness in them. Everyone loves to work,” Hatten said. “The defense gave us every opportunity to come out on offense and score. Offensively, we just have to work harder to score points.
Cabrillo managed the turnover. He walked 75 yards on 12 plays with Hatten scoring from 1 yard with 5:31 remaining.
“I would say it’s believing in each other,” Hatten said, when asked what the Seahawks have learned about themselves. “Fighting and holding your head up and everything, just working.”
The Seahawks forced SJCC to punt and Cabrillo was looking for the go-ahead score when Jones, a former Soquel, made the game a winner for the Jaguars.
“Great game, emotional game,” Jones said. “I love playing them. They’re a tough team.”
SJCC got a first down before kneeling on the ball to kill the game clock and secure the win.
San Jose City 17, Cabrillo 14
Next: Merced to Cabrillo
When: Saturday, 7 p.m.