A dramatic fourth quarter comeback by MSJC forced overtime Saturday night at College of the Desert where the Eagles were able to pull out the 41-34 win and claim the Palms to Pines Trophy.
The Eagles got off to a slow start falling behind 13-0 that left them chasing the Roadrunners for most of the night. Trailing 13-0 MSJC got on the board for the first time with 2:54 to play in the first period when quarterback Brett Virgil scored on a 62 yard run, after a Victor Carbajal extra point MSJC had cut the lead to 13-7. Desert would continue to keep the Eagles at arms length in the first half as they scored early in the second quarter to push the lead back to 20-7. With just under five minutes remaining before halftime MSJC scored again, this time on a one yard pass play from Virgil to Darryl Estem from one yard out and the point after made the score 20-14 at the half.
Late in the third period MSJC seemed prime to take their first lead of the night as they drove the ball deep into Desert territory, but a fumble was scooped up by the Roadrunners Delbert Martin and he ran it back 87 yards for a touchdown once again pushing Desert's lead to two scores at 27-14. The Eagles answered quickly at the end of the third with a quick 6 play 55 yard drive capped off by another Virgil rushing touchdown form the three yard line and the teams moved to the fourth quarter with Desert in the lead 27-21.
In the final 15 minutes, Desert would push the lead back to 13 for the final time with 7:59 to play when they went 64 yards in 7 plays and moved ahead 34-21. MSJC then mounted their comeback to force overtime as they scored two touchdowns in the final 5:46. The first cam on a 30 yard pass from Virgil to C.J. Sullivan, but Carbajal's extra point was blocked keeping Desert's lead at seven, 34-27. On the ensuing kick off the Desert return man took the ball out to the 27 yard line before Terryon Finley forced him to fumble the ball and then Finley pounced on it giving the Eagles the ball right back. Eight plays and four minutes later MSJC pushed the ball into the end zone on a 2 yard run from Virgil and the extra point tied the game at 34 a piece with just 1:37 to play in regulation. Desert could not move the ball past their own 40 on the final drive sending the game into overtime.
The Eagles took the ball first in overtime and it took just one play for Virgil to run it in from the 25 yard line giving the Eagles the lead for the first time all night long. The extra point made it 41-34 and put the pressure on the Roadrunners to have to answer in their OT possession. After moving the ball to the MSJC 10 a pair of holding calls against Desert forced them into a fourth and goal to go on the 24 yard line and Noah Shoeman's incomplete pass gave the Eagles the victory.
Virgil finished his impressive night with 4 rushing and 2 passing touchdowns, as he ran for 74 yards on 16 carries and completed 17 of 37 passes for 235 yards. Semaj Wren had a big night on the ground as well rushing for 118 yards on 21 carries. James Phillips had a team high 6 catches and Eric Ellison caught a pair of passes for a team high 57 yards. Vicente Flores had his best game of the year for the MSJC defense as he made 11 total tackles and broke up two passes. Estem, who along with Ellison played both ways in the game due to injuries, had a sack for the Eagle defense. Daylan McCoy and Travis Shippen both had 7 tackles.
The win brought home the annual Palms to Pines Trophy for the Eagles. Desert had won the game the past two seasons. The win also improved MSJC to 7-2 on the season, they are 2-2 in American Mountain League games. The Eagles will play their final regular season game on Saturday when they host Citrus at 1 pm at Carl Quandt Stadium.
The MSJC football team poses for a photo with the Palms to Pines Trophy after a dramatic come from behind overtime win Saturday at College of the Desert. The Eagles final game of the regular season will be this Saturday at home when the host Citrus College at 1 pm.