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Warriors shut out Eagles for first football win of 2022

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

The first win as a football head coach for Fallbrook coach Ross Johnson was a shutout.

Fallbrook faced Santa Fe Christian on the Eagles’ field Aug. 26 and prevailed by a 21-0 margin.

“It’s always good to get the first one under your belt,” Johnson said. The significance of a shutout win for Johnson is how well Fallbrook’s defense performed. “It’s always nice when the defense puts together an effort like that,” Johnson said. “They had a nice stand at the three-yard-line at the end of the game to keep a clean zero on the scoreboard.”

The goal line stand in which the Eagles turned over the ball on downs was actually early in the fourth quarter, but was Santa Fe Christian’s final possession of the game. Fallbrook was able to drive far enough down the field to run out the clock.

“We only had six offensive possessions,” Johnson said.

The relatively low score on Fallbrook’s part was thus not due to the Warriors’ offensive futility but rather to their ability to compile sustained drives. “It was definitely very much ball control,” Johnson said.

Although the Warriors had to punt without gaining a first down on Fallbrook’s first possession and quarterback Evan Thomas threw an interception on the third play of the Warriors’ second possession, the Warriors scored on their next three possessions before running out the clock on their sixth possession.

The interception was the only incomplete pass for Thomas, who connected with Fallbrook receivers on his other six throwing attempts. That was also the only turnover for Fallbrook, who fumbled the ball five times Aug. 19 in the Warriors’ 14-7 loss at University City.

“We had zero fumbles in the game this week,” Johnson said.

Fallbrook committed five penalties against Santa Fe Christian. “We played a game with very few mental errors,” Johnson said. “No big coverage breakdowns, and our defense kept everything in front of us.”

Although Fallbrook did not intercept any passes or recover any fumbles, the Warriors’ 57 total tackles (including kick returns) included 11 tackles behind the line of scrimmage including four sacks. All four sacks were by seniors: Kaleb Collings sacked the quarterback twice while Matthew Wilson and Angel Angulo had one sack apiece. Leading the team with six solo tackles, 10 total tackles, and three tackles for a loss was senior Thomas McSheehy.

“The defense played phenomenal,” Johnson said.

Santa Fe Christian was limited to 138 yards of total offense. Fallbrook gained 297 yards from the line of scrimmage including 103 on pass completions. A pass by junior Sam Bruton gave Fallbrook seven completions in eight attempts. The Warriors rushed 40 times for 194 yards with junior Chris Bausch gaining 140 of those on 30 carries.

Fallbrook is in Division IV for CIF playoff purposes. Santa Fe Christian is in Division II. “I think we’re an extremely strong Division IV team when we execute the way we did on Friday,” Johnson said of defeating a Division II opponent.

The first two Fallbrook touchdowns, which were followed by extra-point kicks by senior Josh Gomez, were both in the second quarter. “We did a good job staying with our blocks,” Johnson said. “We didn’t rip off any huge plays.”

The 10 plays on the first touchdown drive, which totaled 79 yards, included a 28-yard pass from Thomas to Collings. The final play was an 18-yard completion to Collings in the end zone after the Eagles prepared themselves against the run. “They started to build up the box a little bit,” Johnson said.

Fallbrook took advantage of that defensive formation by utilizing a play action pass. Thomas threw to the right side over the cornerback and connected with Collings.

When the Warriors regained possession 73 yards from the end zone, they put together another scoring drive which took nine plays. “A lot of six, seven yard ones,” Johnson said. “Just a nice drive.”

Not all of those 73 yards were part of Fallbrook’s total offense statistics. “We had a little help from a couple of defensive penalties,” Johnson said.

Bausch ran three yards into the end zone for the touchdown, and Gomez’s conversion gave Fallbrook a 14-0 lead which became the halftime score when the Eagles were unable to set up a score before the halftime whistle was blown.

The final Fallbrook touchdown occurred late in the third quarter. The Warriors drove 80 yards in 12 plays. One of the Fallbrook penalties was a holding call on that possession. “We were able to put it in the end zone anyway,” Johnson said.

A defensive pass interference call on the next play gave the Warriors a first down. “We were able to punch in a few plays from there,” Johnson said.

Bausch concluded the drive with a one yard run for the touchdown, and Gomez kicked the extra point.

The next Santa Fe Christian possession extended into the fourth quarter. “They were able to put together a decent little drive,” Johnson said.

The Eagles had fourth down a yard away from the first down marker when Fallbrook’s defense made the stop. That gave the Warriors possession with approximately 8 1/2 minutes to play. The distance between the original line of scrimmage and the end zone allowed Fallbrook to run time off the clock by gaining first downs on short plays. The Warriors advanced approximately 70 yards before the kneel downs which allowed time to expire.

The victory gave Fallbrook a season record at 1-1. “It’s good to get that one to even up our record,” Johnson said.

 

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