SALINAS—As the gusty Salinas Valley winds began to pick up, so did the howls from Lobos fans sitting in the stands, cheering for their Monterey Peninsula College football team as it got into victory formation to close out the season.
The Lobos defeated Cabrillo College, 24-17, on Saturday in the Living Breath Foundation Bowl at Rabobank Stadium.
M.P.C. sophomore receiver Dacian Sullivan connected with freshman Quinton Lewis on what was a rare, but well thrown pass in the fourth quarter for the game-winning touchdown.
“I’m super happy, it’s amazing,” Sullivan said. “We got the win as a team… we came through and it’s awesome.”
Midway through the fourth quarter, Sullivan received a handoff from quarterback Hunter Raquet to pull Cabrillo’s defense to the right side. But instead of running up the sideline, he connected with receiver Quinton Lewis, who was wide open for a 54-yard go-ahead score.
“We just made one more play,” said M.P.C. coach Mike Rasmussen.
Rasmussen said that play was called “Ashley’s Special Pass,” which was in recognition of Living Breath Foundation Bowl honored guest Ashley Wilson.
Wilson, who was diagnosed at birth with cystic fibrosis, also sang the National Anthem prior to Saturday afternoon’s game.
Rasmussen unleashed the play at the right time.
“We sure did,” Rasmussen said.
Sullivan was named the most valuable offensive player of the game. He had 65 yards receiving and a touchdown on five receptions along with the 54-yard pass to Lewis.
“I know there’s more people on the team that deserved it, even the linemen,” Sullivan said.
The Lobos finished the season with a 10-1 overall record and they went 5-1 in American Golden Coast Conference play.
It was Cabrillo’s first bowl game since 2007. Despite the loss, the Seahawks finished with their best record since going 10-1 in 1999.
The Seahawks finished the season with an 8-3 overall record and they went 4-2 in conference play.
“I’m proud of them,” said Seahawks coach Darren Arbet. “They had a heck of a season, they worked hard and they came a long way.”
Arbet said this year’s group was special because it came together when it needed to in order to play an extra game this year.
“That’s always the goal, to get that 11th game like we did today and they did enough,” Arbet said. “They worked hard enough and they earned the right to be here today.”
Cabrillo freshman Christian Rodriguez was named the defensive M.V.P. He had an interception in the first quarter and recorded three tackles.
“I don’t really care about the M.V.P. (award), I really wanted that ring,” Rodriguez said.
Still, Rodriguez said he was glad to play for a good cause and that the Seahawks were fortunate enough to play in one extra game.
Rodriguez said they prepared for Saturday’s bowl game by practicing in the rain and in windy conditions in Aptos.
“I thought that we’d be prepared coming in but I think we came in just a little bit relaxed and that obviously showed on that scoreboard,” Rodriguez said.
The Seahawks had five turnovers but it was a trick play that cost them the game.
Saturday’s bowl game was nothing close to their shootout in the regular season finale.
The Seahawks returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown the last time both teams met. Sullivan said he remembered that left a bad taste in his mouth.
“In this game we came out and knew this wasn’t going to be easy. We got to work hard every play and give it our all,” he said.
Raquet finished 16-of-35 passing for 147 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. The Lobos also lost one of their three fumbles.
M.P.C. kicker Izia Polanco capitalized on Cabrillo’s first turnover by making a 30-yard boot in the first quarter.
The Seahawks responded to take their only lead of the game, 7-3, after quarterback Devon Daich dumped off a short pass to Ramon Gordon, who sprinted for a 55-yard touchdown.
Daich completed 15-of-33 attempts for 232 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. One of the interceptions was made in the end zone. Cabrillo also lost two of its three fumbles.
The wind slowly picked up in the second half and it affected both quarterbacks, especially with the wind going against them.
“You can’t throw those long ones because they get caught up there,” Arbet said. “But that’s no excuse, Monterey played well. I take my hat off to them for winning the bowl game today.”
Kieran Woodley made a 37-yard field goal in the second quarter to make it 10-3, but the Lobos tied the game at 10-all on a 2-yard touchdown reception from Sullivan in the second quarter.
M.P.C. recaptured the lead when Raquet connected with Lewis in the third on a 10-yard scoring reception.
Daich tied the score at 17 with 5:54 left in the third. He connected with receiver Kameron Pleasant for his team-leading 15th touchdown reception of the season.
“It was just a hard fought game by both teams,” Rasmussen said. “The weather played part of it but at the end of the day, that’s not what decided the game. It was just a great effort and great competitiveness.”