Tensions ran high Saturday night after the Pierce College Brahmas defeated its rival, the Los Angeles Valley College Monarchs, 55-48 to ring the Victory Bell for the sixth straight year.
Members of both teams ramped up the hostility that started last week on Twitter and continued the banter on the field during warm-ups.
The game started with a Valley touchdown by Elli Richardson about three minutes into the first quarter. Richardson scored his second touchdown about five minutes later and the Monarchs quickly followed with a 60-yard interception return to make the score 21-0.
Tempers began to flare on the sideline, but Pierce started its comeback from a 21-point deficit, with a 21-yard touchdown by running back, De’Shawn Jones late in the first quarter.
“I think the whole year’s been emotional, but this week was more emotional than most weeks because it’s personal,” said head coach Efrain Martinez.
The cross-valley rivalry has grown since ex-Pierce defensive coordinator, Juan Navarro, left last year to become the head coach for Valley. Navarro also took around 20 red/gray shirt players with him to play for the Monarchs. One of those redshirt players is Jordan Barge, who was active in the taunting on social media last week.
“The refs cheated us,” Barge said. “Offense, we did what we needed to do. We put points on the board and I don’t know what happened after that. We were the better team, we played better than them, but they made bigger plays than us.”
Valley opened the second quarter with a touchdown, but wide receiver Wendell O’Brien caught the 11-yard pass by quarterback Sean Smith to score a touchdown to bring Pierce within 14 points at 27-14.
The first half ended with the Brahmas trailing 41-27 after touchdowns from running back Zachary Mumford and wide receiver Loliya MacHarry.
But Pierce maintained focus and came back strong after halftime.
“We took control of the emotions and we kept the emotions on our side, that’s what it was,” E. Martinez said. “Valley had emotional control in the beginning, we had control in the second quarter and the second half and that’s how we overcame them.”
Jones scored his second touchdown of the night with around 9 minutes left in the third to cut the Monarchs lead to 41-34. The Brahmas then tied the game with another touchdown from Mumford, his second of the game.
The game went back and forth throughout the fourth quarter with an early touchdown by Valley. Pierce wide receiver Bryson Martinez tied the game 48-48 with about nine minutes left.
B. Martinez said his game-tying touchdown was a big one that he will remember for a long time. He gave lots of praise to his teammates especially the offensive line and quarterback Sean Smith.
“This was a big win especially losing our bowl bid with the early loses. This was kind of our bowl game,” B. Martinez said. “It’s the rivalry game and most of our receivers are sophomores, so it was especially big for us to finish our last season here with a win over Valley.”
The Brahmas’ ended the game with a touchdown by Jones, his third of the night, with less than four minutes left to finish the game 55-48 Pierce.
With the seconds counting down in the game, the team ran on the field to celebrate the win and ring the victory bell for the sixth straight time against Valley.
“It just feels good to beat a team that’s been talking a lot,” O’Brien said. “It’s our rival team, we kept the bell, and because our season has been on and off, getting this win really means a lot. Especially with these guys.”
Pierce will go on the road to play Antelope Valley (2-6) next Saturday, Nov. 7 at 1 p.m. in Brent Carder Marauder Stadium.
“I’m just proud of the way they battled,” E. Martinez said. “They’ve never quit all year, so I’m proud of them.”