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Warrior gridders take eventual CIF champion to overtime

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

When Fallbrook High School won the Warriors’ most recent CIF football championship in 2000 the 50 points Fallbrook scored were the second-most ever in an 11-man CIF San Diego Section championship game. La Jolla Country Day scored the newest second-highest total in this year’s CIF Division III final, and the Torreys advanced to the championship contest with a 39-38 overtime win in the semifinal match November 17 at Fallbrook.

“We made too many mistakes, too many avoidable penalties,” Fallbrook head coach Ross Johnson said.

Johnson still praised the Warriors for their performance in the defeat.

“They made some big plays to get it into overtime,” he said. “No shortness or lack of effort.”

“That group over there is as tough a team as I’ve seen all year,” La Jolla Country Day head coach Tyler Hales said of the Warriors.

The Warriors received the opening kickoff and advanced to the LJCD 26 before turning over the ball on downs. The Torreys did not gain any yardage on their first two plays, but the third-down pass from Jaden Mangini to Quentin Cesaire gained 14 yards for a first down. The Torreys converted a subsequent third-down play during the drive to move the ball to the Fallbrook 24. A three-yard Mangini run was followed by a Kyle Collings sack for an eight-yard loss. On that third-down play Mangini threw to Madden Craig for a 29-yard touchdown with 55 seconds left in the first period, and Will Sach kicked the extra point for a 7-0 score.

The initial LJCD lead lasted 17 game clock seconds. Chris Bausch returned the kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown and Zach Dickey made the extra point attempt.

Wilson Christopherson, who had the ball for most of Fallbrook’s kickoff returns this year, was also deep and able to receive a long kickoff.

“I thought it was going to go to Wilson. They ended up testing me,” Bausch said. “I had a super good block on the field.”

The Torreys gained eight yards on three plays following the kickoff. A Fallbrook encroachment penalty provided a first down without a play. A three-yard run and two incomplete passes created another fourth down. The Torreys sought to retain possession.

“They don’t really have a traditional punt. They only kind of quick kick,” Johnson said.

The strategy paid off for the Torreys with a nine-yard pass for a first down. The Torreys lost five yards on a Cayden Smith sack. An incomplete pass was followed by a seven-yard run and a 13-yard pass for a first down. A nine-yard run was followed by a 30-yard touchdown pass to Jack Circuit, and Sach made the extra point for a 14-7 LJCD lead with 8:16 left in the first half.

The Warriors gained one first down on their ensuing possession before punting. Mangini ran 28 yards, and after a Fallbrook encroachment penalty and a three-yard run Mangini rushed for 14 additional yards to bring the ball to the Fallbrook 12. Fallbrook’s defense was responsible for three incomplete passes, and Sach kicked a 30-yard field goal with 2:11 left in the half.

The kickoff return was followed by Bausch runs of 11 and 7 yards. A sack cost the Warriors four yards, but quarterback Evan Thomas found Isaac Hawkins open and the necessary seven yards were gained for a first down. A one-yard rushing loss was followed by a 38-yard pass to Christopherson. Bausch gained five yards on the ground. On the next play Thomas found Christopherson on the right side of the end zone and threw for a 19-yard touchdown. Dickey kicked the conversion for a 17-14 score with 22 seconds remaining in the half.

The Torreys received the second-half kickoff. On their first possession they obtained a first down from a 14-yard pass before four incompletions gave the Warriors the ball.

The next two Fallbrook plays gained a combined seven yards. Jackson Christopherson ran five yards for a first down and gained another ten rushing yards. Fallbrook gained one yard on the Warriors’ next three plays, but on fourth down Thomas passed to Hawkins for a 12-yard gain and a first down. Bausch ran for four yards before Jackson Christopherson ran up the middle for a nine-yard touchdown with 5:12 left in the third quarter, and Dickey’s point after gave the Warriors a 21-17 lead.

A holding penalty nullified a 14-yard LJCD pass. The Torreys advanced to their own 23 before the fourth-down play. A bad snap sent the ball into the end zone, and while the Torreys recovered the ball a tackle by Raymond Chavarria gave the Warriors two points for a safety. The ensuing free kick went out of bounds, giving Fallbrook possession at the LJCD 45.

The next play was a one-yard run by Bausch. Bausch broke multiple tackles and advanced the ball 43 yards before being brought down on the one-yard-line.

“The play was messed up,” Bausch said.

Bausch turned the broken play into broken tackles.

“I was using their momentum against them,” he said.

Jackson Christopherson ran up the middle on the next play for a one-yard touchdown with 1:29 left in the third period. The Warriors attempted a two-point conversion with the 29-17 lead but did not reach the end zone.

The Torreys reached the Fallbrook 23 on their next possession before Carter Sanchez intercepted a pass on the two-yard-line.

“It was a good play, I guess,” Sanchez said. “It was a good play, good read on the ball.”

Runs of nine yards by Jackson Christohperson and 11 yards by Bausch gave the Warriors a first down. A holding penalty on the next series of downs forced a punt with the line of scrimmage at the Fallbrook 20. A 49-yard punt by Dickey gave the Torreys possession at their own 31.

“Did my job and kicked the ball. Got it where it needed to be,” Dickey said.

Fallbrook’s defense wasn’t where it needed to be, and on the next play Craig was beyond all Fallbrook defenders. Mangini hit his target, and Craig ran into the end zone for a 69-yard touchdown with 5:57 left in the fourth quarter. Sach kicked the extra point to make the score 29-24.

“We made a lot of mistakes to be perfectly honest,” Johnson said of the Warriors’ defense. “We gave up some big plays. On the plus side we didn’t let No. 2 run the ball too much against us.”

Mangini wore uniform No. 2. He gained 81 yards on 19 rushing carries during the game. His 33 passing attempts resulted in 18 completions for 281 yards.

The Warriors gained four yards on the three plays following the kickoff. Dickey punted the ball to the LJCD 19 with 3:56 remaining in regulation. A fourth-down play gained the necessary yardage for a first down. A holding penalty set the Torreys back 10 yards, but a pass for 14 yards was followed by an 18-yard pass for a first down.

The Torreys advanced an additional 15 yards when a helmet-to-helmet penalty was called against the Warriors.

“That one I don’t worry about. That was more of a coincidental thing,” Johnson said of the 15-yard penalty. “It happens in football.”

The encroachment penalties against Fallbrook were less acceptable to Johnson.

“Those are the ones that are the avoidable penalties that unfortunately we didn’t avoid,” he said.

A 17-yard pass gave the Torreys another first down. Three plays later the Torreys had fourth down at the Fallbrook 8. Mangini found Gianno Kassab for the touchdown with 37 seconds left in regulation.

“I kind of knew the ball was coming to me, so I had to get open and make the play,” Kassab said.

A pass to Jordan Hochberg made the two-point conversion attempt successful and created a 32-29 score in the Torreys’ favor.

Tyler Craven returned the kickoff 22 yards to the Fallbrook 31. A one-yard run was followed by a 29-yard pass to Collings. After a one-yard run, a spike, and an incomplete pass three seconds remained on the clock.

Johnson asked Dickey about his confidence to kick a 43-yard field goal. Dickey said he felt he could make such a kick.

“We put him in there,” Johnson said.

Dickey’s only other varsity field goal attempt was from 28 yards Aug. 25 at Linfield Christian High School, and he was successful on that. Although 43 yards would be Dickey’s longest attempt in a game, Johnson was confident in Dickey’s ability.

“In practice he’s hit from 40 yards before,” Johnson said. “I kind of figured that the adrenaline’s good for a few yards in that situation.”

Time expired as the kick went between the uprights.

“Just doing my job. Kicked the ball where it needed to be,” Dickey said.

“It was an exciting drive,” Thomas said.

Overtime in high school football involves each team starting 25 yards away from the desired end zone. La Jolla Country Day had the ball first. An incomplete pass was followed by Circuit gaining 22 yards. Mangini was held for no gain and Circuit’s next rush lost a yard, but on third down Mangini found Cesaire on the right side of the end zone and Sach kicked the extra point.

Bausch ran for four yards on the Warriors’ first overtime offensive play. Jackson Christopherson gained five yards on the next play. Bausch ran for 15 yards and then ran up the middle for a one-yard touchdown.

The Warriors attempted a two-point conversion, but Bausch was stopped short of the goal line to give the Torreys the victory.

“I’m just proud of my guys for their resilience,” Hales said.

“It was a good game and a good season,” Thomas said.

Bausch finished the game with 191 rushing yards on 26 carries.

“That’s a really good team out there,” he said. “We just came up short.”

The loss gave Fallbrook a final season record of 5-7. The Warriors were 1-4 during Palomar League play to place fifth in the standings.

Fallbrook won the 2000 CIF Division I championship by a 50-12 score against Carlsbad High School, which at the time was the most points scored by a team in the CIF championship game of the top division. That record held until Poway High School’s 56-0 win over Vista High School in the 2011 Division I final. Before 2000, the only 11-man CIF championship game with one team scoring more than 50 points was in 1993 when Christian captured the Division IV championship with a 55-28 victory over Mountain Empire High School. Currently the most points scored by one team in an 11-man CIF San Diego Section championship game was in the 2019 Division II title match which ended as a 75-59 El Camino High School victory over Bishop High School’s. In 1994, Midway Baptist High School won the eight-man championship with a 76-50 win against West Shores High School. La Jolla Country Day won this year’s Division III championship with a 73-34 triumph over Grossmont High School.

Joe Naiman can be reached by email at [email protected].


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