Village News Reporter
A 47-21 home victory Nov. 11 against Francis Parker advanced Fallbrook High School’s football team to the CIF Division IV semifinals.
The Warriors will host Mission Bay in tomorrow’s game. Fallbrook is seeded first among Division IV teams and Mission Bay has the fifth seed. Mission Bay advanced to the semifinal with a 17-10 win at fourth-seeded Montgomery in the Nov. 11 quarterfinals.
“We hope it will be a good turnout from the community,” said Fallbrook head coach Ross Johnson.
Mission Bay will take an 8-4 season record into tomorrow’s game. Fallbrook’s quarterfinals win over Francis Parker gave the Warriors an 8‑3 season mark. The Lancers took a 21-20 lead late in the first half before Fallbrook scored the game’s final 27 points.
“We had our work cut out for us early,” Johnson said. “We were able to get some things figured out.”
In order to do that, the Warriors had to get one person figured out, specifically Francis Parker senior Chris Williams. “He’s a very good athlete. Coming into the game he had over 2,000 all-purpose yards,” Johnson said.
Williams was responsible for all three of Francis Parker’s touchdowns against Fallbrook. As the Lancers’ quarterback he completed both of his passes for a total of 81 yards, including a 43-yard touchdown strike to Kobi Oldenburg. When carrying the ball Williams gained 156 yards on 16 rushes including two touchdowns.
“We did a good job on a lot of plays sustaining him,” Johnson said. “He did break a few gains against us including a couple of long touchdown runs.”
The Warriors’ first significant stop of the Lancers ended as a takeaway. “Anthony Thomas stripped the ball away from the running back on the opening drive,” Johnson said.
That was the only turnover of the game. The Warriors did not commit any turnovers. “Overall I think that’s been a strength for us most of the season. We’ve done a good job hanging onto it,” Johnson said.
Thomas also recovered the fumble, giving the Warriors possession 37 yards away from the end zone. “We got the ball in good field position,” Johnson said.
The first three plays gained 19 yards. Alan Leon then ran 18 yards for a touchdown. Josh Gomez then kicked the extra point for a 7-0 Warriors lead.
Leon was Fallbrook’s primary running back, as Chris Bausch did not play. “Chris was still a little bit banged up from the RBV game, so we decided to let his shoulder recover a little bit,” Johnson said.
Bausch, who gained 119 yards on 20 carries against Rancho Buena Vista in the Warriors’ 20-6 home victory Oct. 28, is expected to play tomorrow.
Later in the first quarter, Williams ran 31 yards for a touchdown and Nathaniel Cumming kicked the point after to create a 7-7 score. The kickoff gave Fallbrook possession on the Warriors’ 17-yard-line, but an 83-yard scoring drive concluded with a 10-yard touchdown run by quarterback Evan Thomas. Thomas also had a 29-yard gain on the first play of the drive. Those were the only two rushes for Thomas, who was not sacked all night.
When Thomas was passing, he completed 11 of 14 attempts for 204 yards and a touchdown. “It was probably our most efficient overall passing performance,” Johnson said.
“I would say it was his best game so far,” Johnson said of Thomas. “Made great decisions with the ball.”
Eight of those receptions, including the touchdown pass, were by Kaleb Collings. Collings had 169 receiving yards Nov. 11. “He had a really big game for us,” Johnson said.
Leon ended the game with 256 yards on 27 carries including three touchdowns. “We were moving the ball really well but got stopped in the red zone a couple of times,” Johnson said.
The Warriors were stopped in the red zone twice in the second quarter, but they had reached field goal range. Gomez had field goals of 36 yards and 23 yards that period. Gomez was successful on all five of his extra point attempts, and his nine kickoffs were returned for a cumulative total of 144 yards with no return exceeding 24 yards.
“He’s been great in all aspects of the kicking game,” Johnson said. “He’s been solid for us all year. Fortunately we only had to punt one time, but he boomed a nice punt for us.”
The 14-7 Fallbrook lead at the end of the first quarter became a 17-7 advantage after Gomez’s first field goal. Williams then ran 65 yards for a touchdown and Cummins’ kick made the score 17-14. Gomez’ second field goal increased the Warriors’ lead to 20-14.
Williams’ touchdown pass to Oldenburg and Cummins’ extra point gave the Lancers their only lead of the game with 1:08 remaining in the second period. The 21-20 score held for 59 seconds. “We came back and scored,” Johnson said.
The Fallbrook drive required six plays to gain the 71 yards needed for the touchdown. The Warriors gained 17 yards on three plays before three consecutive passes from Thomas to Collings. The first of those was for 24 yards after Thomas had to scramble. “Evan did a really nice job finding some extra time,” Johnson said.
Thomas then hit Collings for a 12-yard gain and followed that with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Collings with nine seconds left in the half. The Warriors sought a two-point conversion but were unsuccessful, so the score remained at 26-21.
Being stopped in the red zone was something Johnson addressed during halftime. “We wanted to make sure we weren’t settling for three,” he said. “We did a much better job.”
Fallbrook’s punt was in the third period, but the Warriors began that possession on their own 12 after a Francis Parker punt and gained a first down before being stopped. That punt was also after two more Fallbrook touchdowns and extra points made the score 40-21. Luke O’Brien returned the second-half kickoff 39 yards to the Fallbrook 49, and the 51-yard scoring drive was finalized by Leon’s 33-yard touchdown run. The Lancers also punted on their next possession and, on Fallbrook’s first offensive play, Leon ran 66 yards for a touchdown.
After the Fallbrook punt, the Lancers were unable to obtain a first down and punted on the first play of the fourth quarter. Fallbrook took possession 80 yards away from the end zone and covered that entire distance, concluding with a one-yard touchdown run by Jackson Christopherson. On the Warriors’ next possession, they ran out the clock.
The Fallbrook defense thus held Francis Parker scoreless in the second half. “I think we just did a better job of just playing good fundamental defense,” Johnson said.
“We just did a good job of corralling the ball carriers,” Johnson said. “We were just doing things fundamentally a little bit better.”