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Warriors apply grid lessons to defeat Tigers

Host LJCD in tomorrow night’s semifinal

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

Soon after the CIF Division III quarterfinal playoff game Nov. 10 at Fallbrook High School began, it became evident that the Warriors learned from their previous game’s mistakes.

The Warriors scored 21 game clock seconds into their Nov. 10 game against Imperial and defeated the Tigers by a 27-21 score. The victory gives Fallbrook a home playoff game for tomorrow night’s semi final against La Jolla Country Day.

“I think we had a good two weeks of practice,” said Fallbrook head coach Ross Johnson.

Fallbrook’s regular season concluded Oct. 27 with a 38-0 loss at Ramona. The Warriors did not obtain a first down on any of their initial three possessions and did not cross midfield until the second half of that game.

“We learned that we can’t play that sloppy and beat quality football teams,” Johnson said.

Imperial, which entered the game at Fallbrook with an 8-3 record, had possession past midfield late in the fourth quarter before Fallbrook’s defense forced a turnover on downs. “The guys reacted and made some big plays at a big time,” Johnson said.

Wilson Christopherson returned Imperial’s opening kickoff to the Fallbrook 22. Fallbrook quarterback Evan Thomas then handed the ball to Chris Bausch, who scored a 78-yard touchdown.

“It was really good blocking from the line,” Bausch said.

Zach Dickey kicked the extra point to give Fallbrook a 7-0 lead.

On two of Imperial’s three scoring drives, the Tigers were given a first down from a Fallbrook penalty rather than from a play, and penalties also nullified significant Fallbrook gains. Johnson acknowledged that penalties are a mistake which must be corrected prior to the semifinal. “That will be something that we look at,” he said.

The Tigers crossed the end zone twice, but the first touchdown was nullified by a pushing penalty. The second touchdown made the score 7-7 with 4:31 remaining in the first quarter.

Bausch ran for four yards on the final play of the first quarter. The initial play of the second period was a two-yard loss. Thomas responded to the third-down situation with a throw to Christopherson, who was able to run into the end zone for a 69-yard touchdown with 57 seconds elapsed in the second quarter.

“We were able to execute and get all the blocks,” Christopherson said.

The proper blocks did not happen on the conversion attempt, and the kick was blocked. The score remained 13-7 after the Tigers gained two first downs but were then forced to punt.

A two-yard run was followed by a 17-yard pass to Christopherson. Four additional first downs which included runs of 12 and 10 yards by Bausch brought the ball to the Imperial 7. Jackson Christopherson then ran for six yards before rushing for the final yard which produced a touchdown with 1:01 left in the first half. Dickey’s kick gave Fallbrook a 20-7 lead.

After receiving the second-half kickoff, Imperial advanced to the Fallbrook 28 before attempting a 45-yard field goal which was short. The next three plays were a Bausch 12-yard run, a 14-yard pass to Wilson Christopherson, and a pass to Christopherson which gained 46 yards.

A holding penalty moved the ball back to the Imperial 18, and a seven-yard pass to Christopherson followed by an incomplete pass created third down. Thomas then found Wilson Christopherson in the middle of the field. The pass was caught, and Christopherson ran into the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown. Dickey’s kick made the score 27-7 with 6:21 left in the third quarter.

The kickoff was returned to the Imperial 33. Two rushing plays gained a combined seven yards. The third-down pass was incomplete, but a roughing the passer penalty gave the Tigers first down in Fallbrook territory. A 27-yard touchdown pass with 3:14 left in the third quarter was followed by the conversion kick.

Wilson Christopherson returned the kickoff more than 40 yards, but a holding penalty called back that gain and the Warriors took possession on their own 14. The Warriors gained 10 yards for a first down on the next two plays. A holding penalty returned the ball to the 14, and the punt was returned to the Fallbrook 43.

After the Tigers gained a first down, Will Sherman intercepted a pass at the Fallbrook 7. Julian Jimenez then intercepted Thomas’ pass and returned the ball to the 5. A four-yard run was followed by an encroachment penalty against Fallbrook. The Warriors were still able to stop the Tigers on the next two plays, but a fourth-down pass into the left side of the end zone and the ensuing conversion kick made the score 27-21 with 8:07 left in the game.

With the ball on the Fallbrook 42, Bausch ran for a first down, but a holding penalty nullified that play. After the punt, the Tigers gained a first down which moved the ball to the Fallbrook 40.

A two-yard run was followed by three incomplete passes. Fallbrook safety George Aguilar tipped the fourth-down pass which gave the Warriors possession.

“It was an amazing read,” Johnson said.

“I knew I was the only one that could make a play,” Aguilar said.

“He was in a position to make a great play,” Johnson said.

“I think that we just really pulled it together at the end,” said Fallbrook linebacker Preston McCarthy. “We just hit with our shoulder pads. It showed that we are here to play.”

A seven-yard run was followed by Bausch’s 12-yard run which gave the Warriors a first down and allowed Fallbrook to run out the clock.

“We really locked in and we focused and we did our job,” Sherman said.

“It was a great game and a little nerve-wracking,” Wilson Christopherson said.

“It was a good hard-fought win,” Thomas said. “This will prepare us for the semifinals and the championship game.”

Fallbrook was given the second seed in the Division III playoffs. Imperial was seeded seventh. The Nov. 10 quarterfinal between sixth-seeded La Jolla Country Day and third-seeded West Hills was a 35-7 LJCD win, so the Torreys will travel to Fallbrook for tomorrow’s semifinal.

“We’re excited to keep playing,” Christopherson said.

The quarterfinals results gave Fallbrook a season record of 5-6 and La Jolla Country Day an overall record of 9-3. The Torreys had a 4-2 Coastal League record worth third place in that league’s standings.

A Fallbrook win tomorrow would advance the Warriors to the CIF Division III championship game on Nov. 25 at Southwestern College. Fallbrook would play the winner of tomorrow’s semifinal between Mission Bay and Grossmont. “This has been the goal ever since we started spring football,” Johnson said.


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