WOODLAND HILLS — Hancock College won the fourth quarter, so the Bulldogs retained at least a share of first place.
Ryheem Skinner put the game away for Hancock with a 15-yard touchdown run with about 1:30 left and the Bulldogs came away with a 44-34 win over Los Angeles Pierce College in a Pacific League game at Pierce Saturday.
The Bulldogs, who were tied 27-27 with the Brahmas when the third quarter ended, moved to 6-2, 3-0 and assured themselves of, at the minimum, their first winning season in several years.
They also retained at least a share of first place. Hancock was tied for the league lead with Antelope Valley College going in. Hancock will play at AVC at 6 p.m. next Saturday night.
The Marauders' Saturday night Pacifc League result at Los Angeles Valley College was unavailable at press time.
Pierce dropped to 3-5, 1-1 after giving Hancock a tussle. The Bulldogs have scored some lopsided victories over the Brahmas over the years, but it didn't figure going in that it would go down that way this time, and it certainly didn't.
In fact, the Bulldogs caught a badly needed huge break in the fourth quarter.
Jordan Pollard was three-for-three on field goal tries Saturday, and he drilled a 30-yarder through the uprights with 5:08 that turned out to be the winning points.
The Brahmas put a big scare into the Bulldogs, though. After the Pollard field goal, Pierce needed just 1:19 to go 65 yards for a score that put the Brahmas within 37-34.
Pierce appeared to catch Hancock off guard with an onside kick, and one of the Brahmas grabbed the ball. However, an official ruled that one of the Brahmas touched the ball after it had gone eight yards, not the required 10.
Hancock took over at the Pierce 43, and Skinner went in from the 15 five plays later for his third touchdown.
The Bulldogs led the state in sacks going in. They went most of the game without getting one Saturday night, but after the last Skinner touchdown, Osa Omokaro tackled Pierce quarterback Steven Frost on fourth down for his second sack of the game and 10th on the year, ending the Brahmas' desperation last possession.
Hancock was without one of its best pass rushers, Anthony Miller, Saturday night and most of the way the Brahmas picked up the Bulldogs' blitzes and their receivers consistently beat the Bulldogs' defensive backs as Hancock played man-to-man coverage.
Pierce tied the score at 27-all with some razzle dazzle. Wide receiver Wesly Touzy took a lateral and hit Jonathan Saavedra, who split time with Frost at quarterback for the Brahmas Saturday night, for a 29-yard touchdown pass to tie the score at 27-all late in the third quarter.
St. Joseph High School graduate Dominic King made sure the score stayed tied. He blocked the PAT kick.
The Bulldogs drove 65 yards on the ensuing possession for the go-ahead score and they stayed ahead. Jimmy Kelleher hit Laron Gilchrist on third down from the Brahmas' 6 for a touchdown pass.
Shortly after that, Connor Eppley set up Pollard's field goal when he grabbed a Pierce screen pass and ran with it to the Brahmas' 20.
Skinner broke through a huge hole over left tackle on the second play of the game and sprinted 78 yards for the first score of the game, his second huge run for a score in as many weeks.
The freshman from Clinton, North Carolina, who is Hancock's rushing leader, broke off a school record 90-yard scoring run from scrimmage in Hancock's 46-7 home win over L.A. Valley last week.
After the big Skinner run, Pierce kept Hancock's defense off balance with its passing game and contained Hancock's bruising running game the balance of the first half.
The Bulldogs practically gave the Brahmas seven points before intermission. With Hancock up 17-7, a personal foul penalty nullified an Eppley sack on third down, The Brahmas were willing to take three points off the board on an offside call against Hancock on a would-be field goal.
The Brahmas went for it on fourth-and-two from the nine and made it. They scored on the next play.
For all that, Hancock led 17-14 at halftime.Pollard kicked a 36-yard field goal and Skinner capped a 66-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run.
Pierce took a 21-17 lead on a 75-yard scoring drive on the first series after halftime. Markese Jackson gave the Bulldogs the lead back when he ran the ensuing kickoff back 92 yards for a touchdown, the Bulldogs' first score on a kickoff this year.
Afterward, Hancock's offensive line started opening steady holes and Bulldog backs Skinner, Damon Whitmill Jr., and Isaac Bausley picked up steady yardage. Meanwhile, Hancock's defense did enough to help preserve the win.
No stats were available at press time.
Ojai Villanova Prep 72, Orcutt Academy 36
OJAI — The Spartans' bid for a first-ever league championship ended with a thud as the Wildcats (9-0, 3-0) finished the regular season unbeaten by winning this 8-man showdown for the Mt. Pinos League title in a rout.
Orcutt will head to the playoffs with a 7-2, 2-1 regular season record. The Spartans were ranked second in the state going in and the Wildcats were ranked third.
The Spartans actually took a short-lived 7-6 lead on a Darren Miller 1-yard run and an Eddie Lundberg PAT kick.
Bobby Caron put the Wildcats ahead for good shortly thereafter with a touchdown run, and Villanova Prep roared way afterward. The Wildcats scored in a variety of ways, including on a punt return and on a fumble return.
Miller ran for three scores, Lundberg ran for another and Miller threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Aiden Heller near the end but it wasn't nearly enough for the Spartans, whose defense simply couldn't solve the Wildcats.
The 8-man playoffs will start next week.