The Chabot College football team couldn't have asked for much more entering its bye week.
The Gladiators started fast and closed out West Hills-Coalinga 44-21 Saturday night at Gladiator Stadium to finish the first half of the season at 4-1 — Chabot's best record through five games since 2010.
Freshman quarterback Chayce Akaka threw four touchdown passes and got a big boost in the running game from Ponove Veimau.
"Veimau stepped up big time for us," Chabot head coach Eric Fanene said. "We had some injuries at that position and he came out and had a tremendous game for us."
Like a human jackhammer, Veimau powered his way to a career-high 168 yards rushing on 26 carries.
Chabot got another big-time performance from its defense. Three times in the first half the Falcons had opportunities to get back into the contest but were turned away by the Gladiators.
The Gladiators wasted no time in getting on the board. They took their first possession and went 66 yards on eight plays as Akaka connected with Traveon Auzenne on a 4-yard scoring play barely four minutes into the game.
West Hills had a chance to tie it, but quarterback Jamal Salaam was picked off in the end zone by Darriell Wells to thwart the Falcons threat.
It only took the Gladiators three plays to find the end zone again. Akaka, drawing the Falcons offsides resulting in a free play, hit Khalil Robertson down the left sideline for 69 yards and another Chabot score with 5:24 left in the opening quarter.
Veumau scored on a 9-yard run and Akaka teamed up with Chris Washington on a 22-yard touchdown with 5:07 left in the half as the Gladiators opened up a 27-0 lead.
West Hills (2-3) reached the Chabot 23, but Hufangagau Moala sacked Salaam to end the drive.
On their next possession, the Falcons got to the Gladiators 14, but Salaam's fourth-down pass fell incomplete.
The Falcons finally found the end zone when Kahlil Harshaw scored from 11 yards out with 30 seconds left before halftime.
After Alejandro Cervantez added to the Chabot lead with a 35-yard field goal, West Hills scored twice in a two-minute span to try and claw back into it.
Imoni Donadelle caught a 31-yard touchdown from Salaam. Chabot went back to work, getting inside the Falcons 10, but Akaka was stripped and Doniaj Smelker went 91 yards the other way to the end zone, making it 30-21 with 9:26 remaining in the third.
Akaka erased the memory of the turnover by capping a 57-yard drive with a 4-yard scoring pass to Auzenne.
"Chayce made a couple of mistakes he normally doesn't make, especially with not protecting the ball on the fumble," Fanene said. "He came late to us this year and still learning, but he's growing up so much."
DJ Johnson added a 19-yard run on a reverse and the Gladiators never looked back.
Following a bye week, Chabot opens up the National Bay 6 conference on October 13 at home against Diablo Valley College.
"We play in one of the toughest conferences in the state and we need to come out with our 'A' game every week," Fanene added.
Moala had seven tackles, two tackles-for-losses and a pair of sacks for the Gladiators while Samuel Cavallini also had two sacks.
Devon Vaenuku intercepted a pass and Le-Anthony Grey recovered a fumble for Chabot.
By Tony Gonsalez
Special to Chabot athletics