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WEEK FIVE FOOTBALL : John Glenn starts, finishes strong against Hawthorne but falls on homecoming night

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

John Glenn High’s defense, then its offense showed up in the first quarter against Hawthorne High last Friday night, but quickly went away the next 24 minutes. By the time the fourth quarter arrived, both teams traded touchdowns, but it was too little, too late as the host Eagles dropped a 24-16 decision on their homecoming night.

After the Cougars scored with six and a half minutes remaining in the game on a 10-yard run from Devaughn Houston, the Eagles drove to the 11-yard line before two incomplete passes around a delay of game penalty, and two more plays that netted negative two yards ended any chance of Glenn potentially tying the game. Glenn had used 4:35 on its last drive of the game, completing a pair of fourth down plays.

“Passing leads to some drops and some incompletes,” said Glenn head coach Vince Lobendahn. “But I found a team this week. For a while, we’ve been off course. We’ve seen the blowout in Bell Gardens. We’ve seen the Western game. But here, I’ve seen a group come together; they want to lean on each other. And, we’ve seen this mistake that happened in this loss. But I need to find guys. Now, getting past this week, we get some additional people that can help us out and lend to some of the lack of depth. We’re thankful that that week is in front of us.”

Glenn had one of best defensive stands of the season, if not the best, when it stopped Trevonn Sibley at the one-yard line with 4:58 left in the opening quarter. The Cougars had begun the game at their 40-yard line and had run 13 plays, all but one of them on the ground. Then, Glenn put together its best offensive drive of the game, going 99 yards in 10 plays, taking up nearly the remainder of the stanza.

Half of a dozen of those plays went for at least 10 yards and the Eagles got to third down once, in which they converted into a six-yard touchdown play from junior quarterback Matthew Huxtable to senior running back Edwin Udengwu.

However, the next two quarters would be less than desirable for the home team. Glenn had three drives stall on downs, one end in a punt, one to end the first half and another to conclude the third quarter. The Eagles ran 28 plays in the middle quarters, but one drive was stopped after Huxtable was sacked by Jordan Foster-King on consecutive plays in the second quarter. Then in the third quarter, the first two Glenn drives ended on a pair of fourth quarter sacks. In all, Huxtable lost 40 yards on four sacks.

“They had some extra guys in the box,” Lobendahn said. “So, in those extra guys in the box, it allows me not to be in a position to blame a lineman. They all did their best jobs. But when you get overloaded, trying to get the ball to the outside, that’s where you have that incomplete pass because we see the numbers in the box.”

While the Eagles (2-4 overall) couldn’t get anything going in the second and third quarters, the Cougars found the endzone twice before halftime. However, Glenn would see its fortune turn around on the third play of the fourth quarter when Udengwu scampered 29 yards to tie the game at 16-16. Hawthorne responded by going 65 yards in 4:26 and getting a 10-yard touchdown run from Houston.

Glenn stayed on the ground for the most part in its final attempt to tie the game and send it to overtime. On the second play of the drive, senior Davion Keith made two spin moves to pick up 12 yards on a first-down play. Later in the drive, on fourth and five from the Hawthorne 29-yard line, senior Bobby Sanchez pinballed his way for an 18-yard gain. But the Eagles wouldn’t get any closer.

“We just didn’t get the stop we needed behind that,” Lobendahn said. “We get a big penalty in there against my defense and then there was a big play on the outside edge. I thought the defense held up enough to where we could get right back down there.”

Glenn had 218 yards of offense with Udengwu picking up 128 yards on 19 carries and Huxtable completing seven of 16 passes for 76 yards. However, most of the drives were haunted with a dozen penalties for 95 yards. Now, the Eagles will have to regroup for one of their biggest games every season-the annual Mayor’s Cup tilt with Norwalk High. Glenn snapped a 16-game losing streak to the Lancers last season in a 48-7 rout and will be seeking consecutive wins over Norwalk since winning four straight from 1999-2002.

However, it won’t be easy as the Lancers, under Dean Gray, who is in his second tour of duty as Norwalk’s head coach, utilizes the double-wing offense, something Lobendahn and the Eagles saw in the second week of the season during a 78-36 loss to El Monte High, coached by former Norwalk mentor Jesse Ceniceros.

“Right now, it means the same thing for us that it has always meant, that we’re trying to rebuild what John Glenn had and get something that’s not been here for a while and it’s here and now we’re trying to battle for it again,” Lobendahn said of the Mayor’s Cup. “I know Norwalk’s had a good season at this point and it looks like it’s going to be a kind of game where we have to kind of put ourselves out there and battle them.”

Norwalk enters the contest with a 3-3 mark after losing to Norte Vista High 28-7 last Friday. The Lancers, who went winless last season, have scored 15 touchdowns this season and are paced by senior running backs Sergio Martinez and Daniel Onopa. 

Glenn will also be bolstered with the season debuts of a quartet of transfers who are back from the mandatory sit-out period-senior tackle Ryan Baker, junior running back Warren Stevens-Tayou, sophomore linebacker Thomas Johnson and sophomore lineman Enzo Tayou.

“I’m kind of eager for it because we get to get some guys out there that we haven’t had,” Lobendahn said. “Since I’ve had the El Monte film; it’s an end zone film, and he put everything into it on film, I can’t wait to see what I see on that film and go against it.”