Cerritos survives Palomar surge, despite second half struggles

Terrel Emerson

Head coach Frank Mazzotta had to wait until week three of the season but he has finally captured career win No. 250 with a 21-17 win over Palomar College.

“I didn’t even know it to be honest with you. It’s a nice surprise,” he said.

Mazzotta joked that it’s not like he’s only been coaching for five years, he admitted that he has been coaching for a long time. 39 years at Cerritos College to be exact.

He will look for win No. 251 Saturday, Sept. 24 on the road against Golden West College. The game will take place on the campus of Orange Coast College at LeBard Stadium.

The main storyline of the season has been the defense being put into difficult positions due the offense not being able to move the football.

Free safety Kelvin Murray explained that it is not the defensive’s job to criticize the offense.

“We just motivate them, it’s a process. We just have to get better each day,” he said.

He also expressed that the coaches always preach the theory of “Do your job.”
“We all just have to play our assignments and believe in what we do,” Murray added.

Unlike the first two games of the season, the offense seemed to finally find its stride in the first half of the contest.

“The key thing with [Nick Mitchell] right now is he’s got to get some confidence. We can’t let people play us like that and we can’t throw the ball, it’s absolutely ridiculous that that happened,” he said.

The biggest storyline of the offseason is incoming Oregon State transfer Mitchell and his early season struggles.

“I think we’re starting to gel as an offense. In the first half we showed that we were moving the ball well. I just think we need to keep getting better every week and try to improve,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell went 10-for-18, 153 yards, a touchdown and an interception. The 153 yards was more than he had in the first two games combined, which he had 133 yards.

Somebody who has been really close with Mitchell since arriving is sophomore running back Kishawn Holmes.

“[Mitchell] is a great player and a great leader. It’s just a matter of him getting comfortable, now he’s starting to get comfortable. Dude is a great player as we [saw] today,” Holmes said.

The entire offense as a conglomerate has been struggling to begin this season, even Holmes.

Last season, Holmes had a string of games between October and November in which he accounted for 685 yards rushing and seven touchdowns.

“[Holmes] had a good night. He played really well, ran the ball well he did a nice job,” Mazzotta said.

“It [has] been the whole team’s struggle, it doesn’t have anything to do with him. We replaced him quite a bit tonight and he still ran the ball well. He was a key to winning the game tonight,” he added.

Holmes had his first breakout game this season rushing for 176 yards on 27 carries. In the first two games, he rushed for 93 yards on 31 carries.

“We started off the first two games slow as a whole and we’re starting to put things together. It was an ugly win,” Holmes admitted.

The team’s struggles started right back up in the second half after the team headed into halftime up 21-7 over the Comets.

Mitchell said, “I think we just need to take advantage of what the defense is giving us.”

Mazzotta wasn’t shy about his feelings about the second half struggles.

“We’re not going to [fix our offense] until we get [Mitchell] better. We could’ve thrown for a million yards tonight. He’s got to be better than that,” Mazzotta said.

The game was finally iced by Holmes after a big third down run in which he actually fumbled the ball but was able to regain possession.

“I broke through the [offensive] line and I saw a touchdown […] The ball slipped because my arm was sweaty and I knew I was going to get the ball back because it was [right in front of me]. I looked at my running back coach because he had just told me this,” Holmes said with a smile.

While the win was not easy for Mazzotta he believes this win can spark his team toward a big run the rest of the season.

“Winning is like losing, if we had lost again it becomes a habit. Hopefully, we can get back [on track]. We can do it but we have to get better at quarterback,” Mazzotta added.