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Fumbles cost Warriors in football season opener

Fallbrook High School’s football team opened the Warriors’ 2022 season Aug. 19 at University City High School, but five Fallbrook fumbles contributed to a 14-7 Centurions victory.

“We definitely had our opportunities to win. We put the ball on the ground five times, which hurt us a bunch,” said Fallbrook head coach Ross Johnson.

Fallbrook and University City both moved up a playoff division from 2021. Last year, the Warriors lost in the CIF Division V semifinals, and Fallbrook is now a Division IV team. University City’s previous game was a loss in the 2021 Division IV final, and the Centurions have been moved up to Division III.

All of the points in the season opener were scored in the second quarter. A bad snap on a planned University City field goal forced Centurions quarterback Samuel Cooper to scramble, but he found a receiver in the end zone and threw a touchdown pass. The conversion kick made the score 7-0.

After the kickoff return, Fallbrook drove 60 yards on nine plays for a touchdown. “We didn’t throw the ball once. We just kind of ran it right at them,” Johnson said.

Plays gaining four, seven, six, five, eleven, eight, five, and eight yards were followed by junior Chris Bausch rushing for the final three yards into the end zone. The conversion kick by senior Josh Gomez tied the game.

University City then executed a nine-play drive which culminated in Cooper’s second touchdown pass and an extra point. Fallbrook drove down the field, and with five seconds left in the first half Gomez attempted a 51-yard field goal which was blocked. “We had a little protection breakdown,” Johnson said.

The second half was scoreless. The Warriors struggled in holding onto the ball rather than on gaining yards. “I don’t think that we had a three-and-out the entire half,” Johnson said. “It was a lot of mental errors, putting the ball on the ground a few times.”

In the fourth quarter, the Warriors drove to the University City 15 before losing possession on a fumble. After Fallbrook regained possession, the Warriors advanced the ball to the Centurion 28 prior to a turnover on downs.

University City had the ball with just over two minutes remaining. “They were able to get a couple of first downs to run out the clock,” Johnson said.

“The opportunity to win was there,” Johnson said. “A couple of mental errors and a lack of ball security hurt us.”

Last year, Fallbrook and University City opened their seasons in Fallbrook. Cooper threw four touchdown passes while rushing for two others, and the Centurions were on the preferred end of the 48-7 final score.

“We have a very solid team this year that is capable of doing a lot if we can put it all together,” Johnson said. “I think we saw through most of the game that we’re capable of playing with and beating any team on our schedule if we execute correctly.”

Fallbrook’s schedule includes tomorrow’s road game against Santa Fe Christian. “Ball security is going to be the number one thing we’re focusing on this week,” Johnson said. “It’s hard to win a game when you put it on the ground five times, especially against a quality opponent.”


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