Village News Reporter
Fallbrook High School’s football team will begin Valley League competition tomorrow night with a home game against Ramona. The Warriors will take a 3-1 record into their league opener, as Fallbrook traveled to Santana for a Sept. 8 game and prevailed by a 37-12 margin.
“Happy again with the effort from our guys,” said Fallbrook head coach Ross Johnson. “Overall, it was a really good effort.”
The Warriors scored the first 23 points of the game, the Sultans didn’t obtain a first down until the final minute of the first half, and four of Santana’s five first downs were in the fourth quarter after Johnson had put in his reserves. “It was good for us to start fast and get another win,” Johnson said.
Fallbrook’s first possession ended with Chris Bausch scoring a seven-yard touchdown 4:08 into the game. Throughout the game Bausch gained 203 yards on 26 carries. “I’m hoping for just as good a performance against Ramona,” he said.
Josh Gomez kicked the extra point for a 7-0 Fallbrook lead. Two sacks and a penalty forced the Warriors to punt on their next possession.
Johnson noted that penalties and special teams miscues – which included a missed extra point and a Santana kickoff return for a touchdown - were the Warriors’ biggest weaknesses and that the Warriors sometimes lost yardage on offensive plays. “We got a little bit sloppy. We had some penalties and a few negative plays,” he said.
After Fallbrook regained the ball, the first quarter ended with the line of scrimmage being 25 yards away from the end zone Santana was defending. The line of scrimmage was moved to the Santana 7 before the Warriors opted for a 25-yard field goal attempt on fourth down. Gomez was successful on that kick for a 10-0 Fallbrook lead with 9:37 remaining in the half.
The Warriors’ defense stopped Santana without a first down and regained possession. The drive concluded with 4:01 remaining in the half when Alan Leon scored on a nine-yard touchdown run and Gomez kicked the extra point.
“Once the hole opened up, we got some blocks,” Leon said of his touchdown.
For the fourth consecutive time, Santana was held without a first down and punted. The Warriors obtained possession at their own 46 and gained a first down, but a penalty on the next series of downs set Fallbrook back. A fourth-down pass was incomplete, giving Santana possession at their own 37 with 44 seconds remaining.
Fallbrook utilized a prevent defense. The Sultans were able to obtain their only first down of the first half on a pair of pass completions but were not able to advance the ball past midfield before time expired.
All of the points in Fallbrook’s 14-7 loss Aug. 19 at University City were scored in the second quarter. The Warriors’ road game Aug. 26 against Santa Fe Christian was a 21-0 Fallbrook victory. Fallbrook’s first home game of the season Sept. 1 ended as a 67-0 triumph over San Ysidro. The Warriors thus extended their shutout streak to 12 consecutive quarters by holding Santana scoreless in the first half.
“They played lights out again,” Johnson said of Fallbrook’s defense.
“Defense was solid. We were tough,” said Fallbrook linebacker Thomas McSheehy.
“I was really proud of the defense,” Bausch said.
“They do a great job of setting the tempo for us early,” Johnson said.
“We knew exactly what they were going to run. We just anticipated it,” McSheehy said.
The Sultans also failed to obtain a first down in the third period. The Warriors were forced to punt on their first possession of that quarter, and the kick was returned to the Santana 40 with a Fallbrook penalty advancing the ball to the Santana 45. On third down, Luke O’Brien obtained a sack.
“It had a lot less to do with me than the team. It was very good play calling by the coaches,” O’Brien said.
The sack set Santana back eight yards. “It was a very easy opportunity,” O’Brien said. “Everything just worked out perfect.”
Santana was forced to punt, and the ball went out of bounds at the Fallbrook 35. Leon gained 12 yards on a carry; Bausch advanced the ball from the 47 to the Santana 26, and then Bausch ran the remaining 26 yards for the touchdown with 4:06 remaining in the third quarter.
“I’m very proud of my linemen,” Bausch said.
Fallbrook was then victimized by two consecutive special teams problems. The snap for the point after didn’t allow Gomez to be successful on the kick. Fallbrook then kicked off, and a 96-yard kickoff return gave the Sultans their first touchdown with 3:51 remaining in the period.
“We need to go and watch the film and get better,” Johnson said. “It’s going to be a good learning experience.”
Santana missed the extra point attempt and then attempted an onside kick. Not only did Leon field the ball 61 yards away from the end zone, but he returned the ball the entire distance.
“We had to do something,” Leon said. “We saw the chance.”
Gomez’s kick made the score 30-6.
“Our team played good and strong,” Leon said.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Evan Thomas completed a pass to Kaleb Collings, who was in the right side of the end zone, for a seven-yard touchdown play. Gomez’s kick gave Fallbrook a 37-6 lead.
The kickoff was returned to the Santana 10, but a pass completion gave the Sultans a first down for the second time all night and advanced the ball to the 20. Santana gained two yards on the next two plays. A third-down pass from Jackson Scott to Daniel Dos Santos turned into a 78-yard play and a touchdown.
By that time, Johnson had rested his starters. “Any time you can get a number of guys a bunch of rest, it’s always a positive,” he said.
Saving the first string for future games isn’t the only benefit – the reserves receive competitive action. Thus, Johnson doesn’t regret putting his substitutes on the field rather than reducing the possibility of a Santana touchdown.
“It’s important for all of our guys to get some playing experience,” Johnson said. “It’s huge for their development.”
Santana missed the extra point, so the score remained 37-12 with 7:50 remaining. A rush for a loss and a holding penalty forced Fallbrook to punt on the Warriors’ next possession. The Sultans obtained the ball with 4:22 remaining and gained two first downs before being stopped with 1:24 left on the clock.
“It’s nice to get on a three-game winning streak and get some momentum for league play,” Johnson said.