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DP Loses to SB in a Heartbreaker, 28-21 (F/OT)

By Tim Heiduk

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The Chargers fought until the end, but ultimately lost a closely contested contest to Santa Barbara, 28-21. (Photo / Robin Clayton)

The Chargers fought until the end, but ultimately lost a closely contested contest to Santa Barbara, 28-21. (Photo / Robin Clayton)

Dos Pueblos came from behind to tie the game on two separate occasions, but a third deficit proved to be too much to overcome, as Santa Barbara held on to defeat DP in overtime, 28-21.

In overtime, DP came up just short — inches, to be exact.

On third and goal, down by seven and needing to score a touchdown, senior running back Angel Davison ran the ball to the right side, but was stopped inches from the goal line, forcing fourth down. Before the next snap, the Chargers committed a costly five-yard penalty. On DP’s final chance to force double overtime, SB defender Russell Enholm knocked down a Charger pass, clinching the victory for the Dons.

But the Chargers did not go down without a fight.

“I’m very proud of my kids, they never quit, ever,” said DP head coach Nate Mendoza. “There were multiple times tonight, the score before half, we could’ve been down. And the pick six, we could’ve been down again and just kind of buckled. But, they [the players] fought back all night. So, great character by our team, very proud of them.”

It was senior captain Davison who inspired his team, breaking tackles and making explosive plays for the Chargers. Davison broke free for an 81-yard run that put the Chargers in the red zone (inside the opponent’s 20-yard line) and returned a punt 30+ yards, which set up DP’s second touchdown. Davison finished with 165 rushing yards, his second consecutive 100-plus yard rushing game.

“He [Davison] just kept us alive, multiple times,” Mendoza said. “Again, heart and soul of our team, just had an amazing, amazing game.”

The Chargers took the early lead on their first possession, when sophomore quarterback Kellen Roberts passed to Josh Flora for a 20-yard touchdown, his first of two for the game.

A costly turnover gave SB the ball at DP’s 27-yard line, and the Dons capitalized when quarterback Brent Peus found Adam Ebeling for an eight yard touchdown.

For the rest of the half, both defenses limited the opposing team’s offense, until the Dons broke through in a big way. On the last play of the half, Peus found Daniel Vallin on a screen pass, and Vallin did the rest, racing for a 40-yard touchdown.

“Our lineman got to their blocks, and Danny [Vallin] made magic,” said Dons’ Head Coach J.T. Stone, DP class of 1995 and former All-CIF quarterback. “So, it was designed, but it was just great that we were able to get that, because that was I think the most important play of the game.”

The Chargers fought back in the second half, tying the game at 14-14 when Roberts again found Flora in the end zone, this time on fourth down from the 10-yard line.

The Roberts-Flora connection was evident throughout the game, as Flora caught four of Roberts’ six completions.

“We’ve played 7-on-7 [together], and [I’ve] known him for a long, long time,” said Flora. “So, we have a lot of chemistry together. He knows how to find me in my routes.”

Flora led the Chargers in receiving with 53 yards.

After Flora’s second touchdown, SB’s Carter Soto intercepted a Charger pass, and returned it for a touchdown to put the Dons ahead 21-14.

This was one of many timely defensive plays made by the Dons’ defense. “They [the defense] made plays when they needed to make them, and that’s all that matters in football,” said Stone.

With Roberts injured, it was up to another senior captain, Barrett Burnes, to lead the Chargers from behind. Down 21-14, Burnes entered the game with just over eight minutes left in the fourth quarter. On his first possession, Burnes led DP on a 70-yard scoring drive to tie the game, and ultimately send it to overtime. On fourth and goal, Burnes connected with sophomore wide receiver Blake Erwin on a 10-yard touchdown.

“He [Burnes] came through,” said Davison of his fellow captain. “I couldn’t ask for any more with him too, he’s just throwing touchdowns, making passes.”

In overtime, SB started with the ball, and running back Junior Garcia found the end zone after two punishing runs.

“I’ve told Junior [Garcia] all year, ‘When your number’s called, we ride you,’” said Stone. “And he does exactly what he did.”

Per overtime rules, DP had its turn with the ball, but had to score a touchdown in order to stay alive. The Chargers came close, but Enholm and the Dons’ defense held firm to hold on for the narrow victory.

Stone was complimentary of DP after the game. “I said it from day one. Coach [Nate] Mendoza does a great job with these boys, and they definitely wear his identity, they play hard. I expected DP to play hard, didn’t expect anything less.”

Stone won his first game as head coach against his former school. “To be back home it feels good. I just feel like Hess [Jeff Hesselmeyer] and O [Scott O’Leary] are sort of watching the game, so I look at it like that. But I’m a Don right now, you know I’ve got to coach football. But, just being here does bring back memories.”

DP was strong on defense throughout the game, forcing two SB turnovers. Senior linebacker Daniel Hernandez recovered a fumble, while senior cornerback Rosso Royce intercepted a pass. Junior defensive end Austen Pearce sacked Peus three times, and also added a 35-yard reception that set up Erwin’s late touchdown.

DP has two away games to finish its regular season, beginning with an October 24 crosstown rivalry game against San Marcos.

“I’m just blessed to play with them [teammates] man, I just wish they would know that, that we get to play again,” said Davison. “You know, we have two more games, with this team two more times. I couldn’t ask for any more.”

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DP Loses to SB in a Heartbreaker, 28-21 (F/OT)