The rigors of the Channel League have not been kind to the Dos Pueblos High football team in recent weeks.
The Chargers were heavy underdogs against visiting Rio Mesa, but found themselves tied, 3-3, with the Spartans at the end of the first quarter. After 33 unanswered points by Rio Mesa to close out a 36-3 victory, the solid start was a distant memory for Dos Pueblos.
“We played a great game defensively last week and then this week we didn’t,” said Dos Pueblos coach A.J. Pateras. “It’s consistency and I guess that’s part of being a young team, but we’re almost 8 games into the year so it’s not about being young it’s about how you can learn from your mistakes and get better.”
Dos Pueblos kicker Gregory Tripathi booted a 43-yard field goal to tie the score at 3-3 midway through the first quarter and Dos Pueblos linebacker Cory Kazzi recovered a fumble on the ensuing Rio Mesa possession.
But the Chargers’ drive stalled and they settled for a 51 yard field goal attempt by Tripathi that was doomed by a bad snap.
Rio Mesa began it’s onslaught from there with a eight-play, 58-yard drive that was capped off by a 10-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback J.J. Bittner to Sophomore receiver Chance Harrison to take a 10-3 lead.
With under a minute remaining in the first half, Bittner found Harrison again on a 57-yard bomb that put Rio Mesa ahead 17-3.
On the second play of the third quarter Dos Pueblos quarterback Jordan Rico was intercepted by Jordan Sunia, who returned it 22 yards for a touchdown.
The Spartans tacked on two late touchdowns on a one-yard run by J.D. Laupola and a 52-yard connection from Bittner to Harrison. Rio Mesa has won six consecutive games and will take on Pacifica with first-place in the Channel League on the line next week.
Dos Pueblos will look to secure an unofficial city championship with a victory over rival Santa Barbara next week.
“We took care of business against San Marcos and they took care of business against San Marcos. This is the city championship so we don’t have to talk about anything else except you have a chance to compete for a championship,” Patreras said. “Regardless of our season, that’s a pretty good deal and I think everybody is willing to sign up for that.”
Santa Barbara 24 Oxnard 17
The Dons overcame an early 10-7 deficit and held on late to pick up a crucial Channel League victory.
Santa Ynez 23 Ventura 7
The Pirates bounced back from a stunning last-second loss to Buena and improved to 2-1 in the Pacific View League.
Buena 52 San Marcos 26
The Bulldogs remain undefeated in the Pacific-View League and will face-off against rival Ventura next week.