Defense gets offensive in football team’s win

Rick Gomez

For a high-powered offense that averaged 40 points a game in the regular season, it was the No. 3 Cerritos College football team’s defense and special teams that did most of the scoring in its 42-28 victory over No. 4 El Camino to close out the regular season and earn a playoff berth.

The defense and special teams scored a combined total of 28 points in the game to help relieve the struggling offense that was missing key offensive players due to injury.

Free safety Eric Russell led the scoring with two touchdown interception returns with a total of 156 yards returned. Both touchdowns came in the first half. 

“We knew the offense was going to struggle because of the injuries, so the defense needed to step up and we did,” Russell said.

The Falcons were without the services of running back Tylik Carter and wide receiver Tavoy Moore.

They also started the game with backup quarterback BJ Denker who played three series before Chris Morales, who has been bothered by an injured hand, came in to play the rest of the game.

Dion Curry contributed with a 72-yard punt return to put Cerritos in the lead and sparked a scoring spree that included a 22-yard touchdown by Morales followed by Russell’s second touchdown.

“Special teams have been our big emphasis. We were better than them in special teams,” head coach Frank Mazzotta said.

El Camino recovered a fumble late in the first half that resulted in the touchdown and cut Cerritos’ lead to 28-14 by halftime.

The Warriors looked to continue their momentum in the second half when they were driving to get within one touchdown.

But defensive end Jeramey Cutler put an end to the drive with a 74-yard interception return for a touchdown of his own.

The Falcons’ defense finished the game with six takeaways, five of them interceptions for a total of 228 yards, eight more yards than their total offensive yards.