The frustration was apparent on the Santa Barbara sideline as Pacifica melted away the clock late in the fourth quarter to secure a 24-21 victory and snap the Dons’ five-game winning streak.
After a season-opening loss to Saugus, Santa Barbara discovered a knack for pulling out close contests in less than ideal circumstances, but it was a young Pacifica team that came of age on Friday night at Peabody Stadium as the Tritons burned the final 5:48 off the clock to earn the crucial Channel League victory.
“It was a tough game. Obviously, Santa Barbara is a really good football team. J.T. Stone does a really good job and is a good friend of mine,” said Pacifica coach Mike Moon. “Every time we come up to Santa Barbara, it’s always a tough game regardless, and obviously this year we’re struggling and they’re doing really well, so who knew we’d be able to come up here and get a win.”
The Santa Barbara offense opened the game with a 10-play, 72-yard drive that was capped off by a five-yard touchdown run by Koa Herrera that put Santa Barbara ahead 7-0 early in the first quarter.
From there Pacifica’s freshman combination of quarterback Tagg Harrison and wide receiver Savion Taylor started to heat up. Harrison found Taylor on a fade in the back of the end zone from seven yards out to even the score at 7-7 at the 8:54 mark of the second half.
On the next Pacifica drive, Harrison dropped a 47-yard touchdown pass in the bucket to Tommy Alfaro to put Pacifica ahead 14-7 with 4:53 remaining in the first half.
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Harrison finished 13 of 19 passes for 158 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
Not to be outdone, Santa Barbara High Abel Renteria immediately marched the Dons down the field and found Trent Williams in the end zone, who went up and made a leaping grab for a 25-yard touchdown to even the score at 14-14 with 2:59 remaining in the second quarter.
Renteria completed 17 of 30 passes for 184 yards and added 68 yards rushing on 11 carries.
“We should have won this game tonight,” said Santa Barbara coach J.T. Stone. “This was a man’s game tonight. We just made key mistakes at the wrong time.”
Pacifica tacked on a field goal as the halftime buzzer sounded that proved to be the difference at the end of a close game.
Each team scored on their opening drives of the second half, as Harrison connected with Taylor again on a 13-yard touchdown with 8:53 remaining in the third quarter and Renteria powered into the end zone from 17 yards out to cut Santa Barbara’s deficit to 24-21 with 5:24 remaining in the third quarter.
The defenses stiffened considerably in the fourth quarter, and Pacifica was automatic in short yardage situations with its jumbo set, which allowed Moon’s squad to ice the game.