CORSAIR FIELD — A slow start did little to derail Santa Monica College as it rallied late to dispatch rival West L.A., 32-21, en route to securing the Pacific Conference championship Saturday at home.
A 91-yard punt return by SMC’s Kris Johnson set up a one-yard touchdown run by quarterback Alfonso Media that fueled a Corsair comeback that saw SMC score 22 second half points to secure the win and title.
“After that play, the whole team said ‘OK, let’s go,’” Head Coach Gifford Lindheim said of the punt return that gave the Corsairs possession at West’s three-yard line.
The Corsairs (8-2 overall, 6-0 in conference) have been a second half team all year and held true to form on Saturday. They let West race out to a 21-10 half-time lead before coming alive.
“It didn’t matter what the score was,” Lindheim said “We are a second half team.”
The SMC defense lived up to the billing and held West scoreless during the second half.
SMC kicker Trevor Dionne started the comeback with three early points to start the third quarter putting the score at 21-13.
The defense fed off of the crowd’s energy and the tide continued to change when they held the West offense to a three-and-out.
Just two plays later, quarterback Medina found wide receiver Brandon Taylor for an 80-yard touchdown pass giving the Corsairs a four point lead after missing the two point conversion, 25-21. Medina finished the day completing 15 of 27 for 195 passing yards with two total touchdowns.
The Corsairs will play host to East L.A. in their bowl game next week.