By Tony Gonsalez
Special to Chabot athletics
The Chabot College football team has shown heart to overcome adversity early in the 2019 season.
The Gladiators overcame injuries on both sides of the ball to come away with a 30-20 nonconference victory over College of the Siskiyous at Gladiator Stadium on Saturday night.
Sophomore quarterback Chayce Akaka had 299 yards of total offense. He was 14 of 26 for 203 yards with a pair of touchdowns, adding another 96 yards on the ground as the Gladiators finished with 445 total yards.
Ponove Veimau was the workhorse for the Gladiators running game, rushing for a team-high 108 yards on 30 attempts while finding the end zone on runs of 1 and 12 yards.
''As the game went on Ponove was getting stronger and stronger,'' Chabot receiver Janiero Crankfield said. ''Being shorthanded in the backfield, he knew he had to have a big game and he was spectacular.''
Defensively, the Gladiators had another strong performance, allowing just 231 yards while forcing two big turnovers in the final quarter.
Pablo Rico got the Gladiators on the board on their first possession with a 21-yard field goal for an early 3-0 advantage.
The Eagles responded as D'Angelo Biggs returned the ensuing kickoff 92 yards for Siskiyous' first lead of the season at 6-3.
A Thomas Little 1-yard touchdown run extended the Eagles lead to 13-3 before the Gladiators offense got in gear in the second quarter.
Akaka capped an eight-play, 65-yard drive by hitting Emerson Freeman for a 19-yard scoring strike to pull Chabot within four after the missed extra point.
Veimau gave the Gladiators the lead back with a 1-yard touchdown with 7:55 left in the first half.
''After falling behind we didn't panic and just played our game and we started clicking,'' Crankfield added. ''We were banged up but didn't let that affect us and once we got going we couldn't be stopped.''
Little gave the Eagles the lead at 20-16 with 8:48 left in the third on a 32-yard touchdown run. He finished with 113 yards on the ground.
Chabot (2-2) took the lead for good on its next possession.
After Crankfield returned the kickoff 36 yards to the Gladiators 47, Chabot went 53 yards in just three plays. Akaka connected with Crankfield for 10 yards to the Eagles 39 before Akaka found 'H-back' Khyri Harris down the middle on the next play for the scoring pass play for a 23-20 Chabot lead.
Siskiyous had a golden opportunity late in the third to regain the lead by reaching the Chabot 2. On third-and-goal Biggs was pushed out of bounds just short of the end zone to bring up a pivotal fourth-and-goal from the 1.
The Eagles (0-4) went for it and Little, who was lined up in the 'Wildcat' formation went up the middle and tried a jump pass over the line, but his pass to tight end Kemani Wilks was too high for Wilks and the Gladiators took over.
After both teams exchanged punts, Veimau helped the Gladiators put the game away by capping a 69-yard drive with a 12-yard touchdown up the gut thru the Eagles tired defense with 3:49 remaining. Veimau had 50 yards on the ground in the drive.
The Chabot defense forced a fumble on the next possession before J'Kazee Dorrough ended the night with an interception deep in Gladiator territory.
Chabot cornerback Darriell Wells, the state leader with five interceptions coming in, was matched up with Biggs, the Eagles leading receiver coming in. Wells kept Biggs in check, allowing just one completion before Biggs had two receptions on Siskiyous' final drive.
Crankfield had five catches for 85 yards and Tanner Wright also had five receptions for 52 yards.
The Gladiators are back in action, playing at West Hills-Coalinga on Saturday at 1 p.m.