ESCONDIDO — Matt Romero threw four more touchdown passes to take over the national community college lead Saturday night at Wilson Stadium’s Chick Embrey Field, Chandler Wachholtz contributed 13 more tackles, Devonte Woods blocked two PATs to tie a school record and Tyson Dyer broke the Palomar record for unreturned punts inside the 20-yard line.
Along the way, the Comets held off Chaffey 31-26 to go 4-1 for the non-conference portion of their football schedule. The Comets get a bye next week and will begin Southern Conference play the following Saturday at Orange Coast.
Romero’s 16 passing touchdowns through the Comets’ first five games lead the state and nation. He has one more TD completion than the next three quarterbacks on the national list who each has 15 — Grant Lowary (Long Beach City College), Frank Cosio (College of Merced in Northern California) and Christian Lopez (Mesa Community College of Arizona).
Romero passed for 249 yards on the night and has thrown for 1,526 yards for an average of 305.2 yards per game, which ranks him second among California community college quarterbacks and fourth in the country. Shannon Patrick from Northland Community & Technical College of East Grand Forks, Minnesota, leads the nation at 374.3 yards per game.
Against Chaffey, Romero’s TD passes went for 12 yards to Devin Nilson in the first quarter, 5 yards to tight end Blake Adamson in the third quarter, 21 yards to Nate Johnson in the fourth quarter and 12 yards to Currie Thomason with 8:12 to play in the game. Tyler Vargas had the other Palomar points on a 31-yard field goal and four PATs.
“We’re certainly making games interesting. That’s for sure,” said coach Joe Early, whose team alternately made big plays and played give-away. “Sometimes we shoot ourselves in the foot, but we’re bowing our necks and finding a way to win. We’re going into conference 4-1, and that’s a good thing.”
The Comets never trailed in the game and twice led by 12 points, at 24-12 and 31-19. But Palomar allowed the Panthers to quickly navigate down the field to score three times just after the Comets scored, in just 41 seconds; 1 minute and 15 seconds; and in 2 minutes, 52 seconds. In each case, that allowed Chaffey to get back to within striking distance and, in Early’s words, “keep the game interesting”.
Woods’ record for two blocked conversions in one game equaled the Palomar mark set by Chris Boudreaux against Southwestern in 2008. Boudreaux later was an All-Mountain West selection at Nevada and went to camp with the San Francisco 49ers as a free agent. Dyer, a freshman from Australia, shattered Palomar’s records for punts in a game inside the 20-yard line (6 of his punts, compared to the old mark of 5). For the record Dyer’s 7 punts went to the 12-yard line but was returned out to the 32, the 8-yard line, the 8 again, the 7, the 8 again, the 1-yard line and the 11. Dyer averaged 41.7 yards per punt with a long of 52 yards.
Johnson contributed six receptions for 99 yards icluding the touchdown catch. Issiah Aguero had five receptions and three kickoff returns for 64 yards and rushed for ad additional 57 yards, and Rashad Harper had two catches for 59 yards and two punt returns for 52 yards.