FOOTBALL — The Monarchs defeat the Pierce College Brahmas for the first time since 2008 to reclaim the Victory Bell.
By Kevin Buckles Jr., Sports Editor
It had been 2,554 days since the bell rang victorious for Valley College. On Saturday however, the Monarchs refused to let the bell-drought take a toll on them any longer.
Valley’s dominant 39-7 Halloween win vs. the 5-3 Pierce College Brahmas brought home The Victory Bell – awarded to the winner of the Monarchs annual football game versus the Brahmas – after belonging to Pierce for six lengthy seasons. The win improved the Monarchs record to 6-2 (4-1) on the season – the most games they have won since 2010 when the team finished 6-4.
The energy from hundreds of Monarch fans in attendance was palpable from start to finish. In the final minute of the game, a roaring chant even began to ring out: “Give us the bell!”
“It was an amazing feeling [hearing the crowd’s chant],” said quarterback Patrick Tyler. “We understood coming in what it would mean to bring the bell back home to Valley. So in that moment we felt very accomplished.”
Tyler finished with 148 passing yards and three touchdowns on just 15 attempts against a Brahma defense that was ranked fifth in the state going into Saturday’s game.
“I think it’s one of my better performances on the year,” said the sophomore signal-caller. “Not going to lie, being that [we were playing Pierce], it gave me that extra fuel.”
Most of the gas that was fueling Tyler’s big day came at the hands of sophomore wide receiver Matthew Boudreaux who caught all three of Tyler’s touchdown passes. The two connected for the game’s first two touchdowns in the first quarter: a 49-yard play less than two minutes into the game, and a 37-yard play with just under four minutes left in the quarter, ascending the Monarchs to a quick 14-0 lead.
“That was the best game I’ve ever had playing football,” said Boudreaux. “We really needed to win that bell, so I did what I had to do.”
After Valley’s lead was cut in half by a touchdown in the early third quarter with Pierce’s 12-yard touchdown pass from Sean Smith to Trevor Kanteman, the Monarchs closed the first half with a 4-yard touchdown run by Antoine Conner to extend their lead, 21-7.
Valley has leaned on their rushing attack heavily all season, ranking ninth in the state in rushing touchdowns (24), and sixth in attempts (364) and it may have caused Pierce’s defensive demise according to Boudreaux.
“They were so focused on [the running backs] that we took advantage of their lack of covering the wideouts.”
Despite Pierce’s tunneled awareness versus the Monarch’s running game, Valley was still successful on the ground, rushing for 183 yards and two touchdowns.
The Monarch’s offense wasn’t to be outdone by their defense. The unit, ranked second in the state, demonstrated throughout the game, that they were stingy, holding the Brahmas to a mere 20 yards of offense in the second half, while recording two interceptions and a safety.
Pierce never came close to scoring again, as Tyler connected with Boudreaux early in the fourth quarter for an 8-yard touchdown, along with a capping 2-yard touchdown run by Anthony Wyche, to end the game at 39-7.
“We came out today hungry, we couldn’t lose to Pierce today, we just couldn’t do it,” said cornerback and Cincinnati Bearcat-commit Eric Jenkins, who collected his third pick of the season Saturday on the first play of the third quarter.
“I was in cover 3 [defense] and I saw one receiver pushing vertical and another running a corner route and when the ball was released, I just immediately jumped the corner route … I just knew I had it.”
Jenkins credited Head Coach Robert Tucker for keeping them motivated throughout the week after a close Oct. 24 loss to the conference-leading Santa Monica Corsairs.
“Coach Tucker just kept reminding us, ‘Remember how you felt versus Santa Monica, remember that feeling and stay focused,’” Jenkins said.
“The Santa Monica loss just made us more humble, we know we cant lose any more [games].”
Coach Tucker’s success thus far in his first season at Valley is uncharted, but welcomed by the program after going through three head coaches in four seasons, prior to his arrival.
“We have a lot of heart, and we have a lot of guys that care, I knew that from the beginning,” Tucker said. “There’s two types of class: first class and no class, and these guys have it figured out, you win games doing the right thing.”
The Monarchs will now set their sights on their Nov. 7 matchup against the Glendale Vaqueros at Monarch Stadium, a win will inch them closer to the goal of earning a bowl-game appearance.
“We need to win our final two games to get to a bowl game starting with Glendale,” Tucker said. “They’re only 15 minutes from us, so in a lot of ways it’s another rivalry game. We have to practice sharp and be ready.”