Falcons victorious in bowl game thriller


Hinckley Ropati, No. 3, celebrates his third rushing touchdown with teammate Jovohn Hardy No.6 late in the fourth. The Falcons defeated the Ventura Pirates on Nov. 23, 2019. Photo credit: Anthony Saldana

Anthony Saldana

The Falcons defeated the Ventura Pirates in an offensive explosion, 46-39, for the Joe Kapp Real Estate Beach Bowl at Ventura College on Nov. 23.

The Falcons would start off slow with a three and out on their first possession of the game.

Ventura’s quarterback, Dino Maldonado, marched the offense down to Cerritos’ 23-yard line for a 40-yard field goal from Alberto Arroyo.

The Falcons’ offense would flip the script with a touchdown on three-consecutive drive limiting the Pirates to two field goals.

Cerritos’ running back, Carl Odom, No. 4, lit the spark for this offense as his tremendous run game would open up the attack for quarterback TJ McMahon, No. 15.

Despite Odom’s early stamp on the game, it was running back Hinckley Ropati, No. 3, who accounted for two of the first three Falcons’ touchdowns. The third came from McMahon on a 15-yard strike to Jovhon Tucker, No. 7.

With a score of 21-9 in the second quarter and another touchdown opportunity, it seemed as if Cerritos was in the driver’s seat until Ventura made a goal-line stop and forced Cerritos to settle for a 21-yard field goal from Brandon Petruescu, No. 42.

With just under three minutes in the half, Ventura drove down the field, setting up a 24-yard touchdown reception for Chris Atkins, cutting the Falcons lead to nine.

The second half began in a barrage of points as both teams traded touchdowns in just the first three minutes of the third quarter.

Both coaches tried to rally their defenses on the sideline as their offenses continued to light up the scoreboard heading into the fourth quarter, with Cerritos on top, 38-29.

Ventura opened the final quarter with a touchdown, closing the gap 38-36. Cerritos would drive the ball downfield but were finally held to a 29-yard field goal which was missed wide right.

Ventura looked to regain the lead until Logan Applewhite sacked and stripped the ball away for his teammate Elijah Dolphin to recover.

The Falcons would take advantage of the turnover with Ropati’s third touchdown of the game.

The Falcons would then attempt a risky two-point conversion to Etieni Valele, No. 44, which he bobbled three times before coming down with it to put his team ahead by 10 points with 5:46 minutes left in the game.

Ventura quickly scored the field goal they needed, however Cerritos offense would convert multiple time consuming first downs. The Falcons stormed the field as the clock struck zero, and were victorious 46-39.

Post-game Ropati and Odom of Cerritos shared their appreciation for teammates.

“I’m just proud of the execution from this team,” Ropati stated.

Odom then followed it with, “It feels good to do what we do… we work hard and we just keep fighting.”