As the final seconds ticked away on the Huyck Stadium scoreboard the Santa Barbara High sidelined exploded in celebration for the program defining win.
Two fourth quarter field goals by Santa Barbara kicker Ty Montgomery were the difference as the Dons held on for a 27-21 victory over perennial powerhouse Lompoc and moved into first place in the Channel League.
“It’s been six years working to get to this point and for us to win this game is huge,” said Santa Barbara coach J.T. Stone. “When they changed the leagues a couple years ago we felt like we had a shot, but then they brought Lompoc in the league and we knew it was going to be a challenge.
“We didn’t want to be the second place team anymore.”
The Dons have made strides in recent years, but few would have picked them to defeat Lompoc on the road. The Braves had not lost a league game since 2010, which dates back to the now defunct Los Padres League.
Santa Barbara came out of the gates with an impressive game plan that attacked the Lompoc secondary down the field. On the Dons’ first drive of the game Deacon Hill converted a third-and-10 with a 69-yard touchdown pass to Moki Nacario, who slipped behind the Lompoc defense, giving Santa Barbara a 7-0 lead with 5:13 remaining in the first quarter.
“Me and Moki our J.V. year I think we connected,” Hill said. “It was good to get that chemistry back.”
Nacario finished with three catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns.
After a quick Lompoc three-and-out Hill attacked down field again with a 44-yard pass down the sideline to Dakota Hill, who fought through two Lompoc defenders for the ball. Two plays later, Hill powered into the end zone from one yard out, increasing the Santa barbara lead to 14-0 with 2:17 remaining in the first quarter.
“A lot of teams tested Lompoc deep and we felt like we had the fastest guys that they’ve seen all year,” Stone said. “We were going to let our guys fly tonight and we made some key catches.”
Trailing 14-0 late in the first half, Lompoc incorporated senior standout Leondre Coleman into the offense and he responded with a 6-yard touchdown run that capped off a 14-play, 70-yard drive with 3:22 remaining in the first half.
However, Santa Barbara got the ball back with plenty of time left on the clock and immediately marched down the field. Hill connected with Nacario on another deep ball for a 40-yard gain down to the 25-yard line. Then on 2nd-and-7 from the 10-yard line Hill found Nacario on a quick out that he turned up field and side stepped a defender on his way to the end zone.
“We really put in the work in our practices and we really focused,” Nacario said. “We knew that in this game it was going to come down to the least amount of mistakes.”
Lompoc came out of the locker room for the second half with a different energy and got a spark from cornerback Tyler Rounds, who intercepted a Hill pass on the opening drive of the third quarter.
Seven plays later Cavin Ross converted a 4th-and-11 with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Cailin Daniels, cutting the Lompoc deficit to 21-14.
Santa Barbara punted after three quick plays on its next possession and Lompoc came right back with three-yard touchdown run by Sheldon Canley that evened the score at 21-21.
Both offenses slowed in the fourth quarter as Lompoc was without Coleman, who left the game with an injured hand, but Ty Montgomery was able to give Santa Barbara a 24-21 lead at the 8:25 mark of the fourth quarter with a 45-yard field goal, despite heavy wind swirling throughout the stadium.
Lompoc had an opportunity to tie the game with a 43-yard field goal on its next possession, but it was blocked by Charlie Figueroa and scooped up by Jackson Gonzalez setting up the Dons with excellent field position at the Lompoc 40-yard line.
The ensuing drive resulted in a 26-yard field goal by Montgomery, which gave the Dons a 27-21 lead with 3:25 remaining.
Lompoc (5-3 overall, 2-1 Channel League) marched down to the Santa Barbara 35-yard line, but a desperation heave into the end zone by Ross on fourth down was thwarted by a swarm of Santa Barbara (6-2, 3-0) defenders surrounding intended target Ryan Morgan.