In order for the Hancock College football team to earn its second consecutive bowl win, all Bulldogs quarterback Matt Garcia had to do was literally run out the clock.

He did.

Garcia ran around in the backfield, taking enough time to ensure Hancock didn’t have to run another play. He finally went down on his own 35 and the Bulldogs started celebrating a 14-9 win over Mt. San Jacinto College in the 2019 Western State Conference Bowl at Righetti High School.

The Eagles were out of timeouts and were thus powerless to stop the clock. Garcia knew it so, untouched, down he went after he was sure enough time had elapsed.

“Best 12-yard loss of my life,” a happy Garcia said afterward.

The Bulldogs held off San Bernardino Valley College 38-35 at Righetti to win the 2018 American Championship Bowl. That team finished 10-1 and missed a perfect season by two points.

The 2019 Hancock team finished 9-2 and won its last seven games. The Bulldogs defense never gave up more than two touchdowns in any game during that span.

Hancock back DJ Whitmill was the 2019 Western State Bowl MVP.

After gaining a total of three yards on two rushes in the first half, Whitmill, the leading rusher in the Pacific League, finished with 60 yards on 11 carries.

Hancock was the third seed in the American Division. Mt. San Jacinto, which finished 8-3, was seeded fourth.

Desmond Newkirk scored what turned out to be the winning touchdown on a four-yard run at the 3:17 mark of the third quarter.

Brett Virgil and Alonzo Bell answered for the Eagles. Virgil hit Bell for a 15-yard touchdown pass on the last play from scrimmage in the third quarter. The point-after kick missed.

After stopping the Bulldogs on downs in the fourth quarter, the Eagles drove from their 8 to the Hancock 36. EJ Barrera halted the drive there when he broke up Virgil’s fourth down pass.

“I seen where he wanted to throw it and I was able to get a hand on it,” Barrera said afterward.

Mt. San Jacinto’s Nicholas Sigilla kicked a 37-yard field goal on the first possession of the game for the only points of the first half.

Eddie Battle jump-started the Bulldogs when he took a short second-half kickoff at his 20 and returned it to the Eagles 43. Seven plays later, Garcia burned the over-pursuing Eagles.

He flipped a short pass to tight end Jerome Afe. Afe, wide open on the left side, gathered in the pass and ran in to complete a 31-yard scoring play for the first touchdown of the game.

Defensive back Seth Matthysse was Hancock’s Player of the Game. Virgil was Mt. San Jacinto’s Player of the Game.

“Our defense has been good at bending but not breaking,” said Barrera, and the bend-don’t break thing served the Hancock defense well in its biggest game of the year.

Virgil, the Mountain League rushing touchdowns leader with 12, was a handful for defenses all year because of his mobility, and he was a handful for the Hancock defense that night.

Matthysse and Barrera, however, helped the Bulldogs keep Virgil from making enough big plays for the Eagles.

“He was the most challenging quarterback we’ve faced all year, no doubt,” said Barrera.

“We wanted to make him throw the ball, contain him, and we were able to do that.”

Hancock punter and kickoff man Cade England had delivered all year for the Bulldogs, and he did so again that Saturday night. He consistently put his kickoffs and punts deep enough to keep the Eagles from getting prime field position.

After mustering all of 45 yards rushing in the first half Hancock, which averaged 305 yards a game on the ground going in, ran for 160 yards in the second half.

“We made some adjustments,” Garcia said. “We went to a quicker tempo on the run, and it worked. We thought we could wear them down in the second half with our running game,” the way the Bulldogs wore opposing defenses down with the ground game in the second half most of the season.

Earlier that year, Hancock finished a third consecutive 5-0 Pacific League campaign. After winning their last 18 league games, the Bulldogs have been moved back to the rugged Northern League, where they were before their four years in the Pacific League, for the 2020 season.

Central Coast Classic Series: We look back at some the biggest games in the area's history

With a little extra time on our hands, we are taking a look into the past of prep sports on the Central Coast. Our sports staff has been going through our archives searching for photos and stories highlighting some of the most pivotal games area teams have played over the last two decades.

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