The Lompoc High football team entered Pioneer Valley High with no history of losing to the Panthers, plus having won its last 36 Los Padres League games.
The Braves continued both their dominance of PVHS and their streak of league victories, ripping off 49 unanswered points in the first half before routing the Panthers 49-10 on Friday night to open LPL play plus improve their overall record against PVHS to 8-0.
Lompoc (7-0, 1-0 in the LPL) actually started the game with a rare miscue: A Toa Taua fumble. The senior lost grip of the pigskin during the first series and the Panthers pounced on the ball at the 39. From there, Mathew Garcia connected with Kenneth Hoobery on a 39-yard strike for the first score, as Hoobery caught the ball in the end zone as his defender fell to the ground.
However, it was all Lompoc from there. Cullin Ranney caught a screen pass from his fullback spot and accelerated his way 48 yards down the field on the next drive. Johnny Manzo capped that drive with his 6-yard touchdown run, tying the game at 7-7.
Taua then scored the first of two first-half touchdowns – his first one on a 31-yard rumble that put LHS ahead 14-7. Ruben Cortez then scored from 1-yard out on a fourth-and-goal scenario, extending the lead to 21-7.
Head coach Andrew Jones said he was proud of how his team shook off that rare early miscue and the rare deficit.
“It’s the first time I think we’ve been down all year. Obviously, we know everyone wants to knock us off. But I thought that play woke us up,” Jones said. “It’s a credit to our defense. We had that one play blunder and then we settled down.”
After Cortez’s score, Shemar Savage would tack on the first of his two first-half touchdowns on a 32-yard touchdown reception that made it 28-7. He then showed his wheels on a jet sweep run – by scoring from 60 yards out while Taua cleared the road for him as the lead blocker, making it 42-7.
The Panthers (3-3, 0-1 in the LPL) saw a lot of their starters standing on the sidelines toward the end of the first half, as head coach John Ruiz made the decision to put in his subs including backup quarterback Jason Garcia.
Pioneer Valley’s miscues continued from there, as Lompoc’s Ruben Cortez swooped up a Panther fumble and scored the final touchdown of the first half from 21 yards, making it 49-7 before halftime.
Special teams wise, Manzo was dynamic throughout the night as he returned two punts that stretched past 40 yards, including a 46 yarder that saw him run down the hash marks and then cutting back inside for more yards before being tackled at the PV 32.
Lompoc’s defense, which entered the game by allowing just six points in the last 12 quarters of play, went on to sack starting quarterback Mathew Garcia three times in the first half – twice inside the 10-yard line as the likes of Cortez, Leondre Coleman and Jelani Henderson brought the blitz from their linebacker spots.
Taua went on to finish the first half with 11 carries for 138 yards and his two rushing touchdowns. Those numbers got him to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark for the season, as Taua now has 1,120 yards in seven games played with 17 touchdowns.
Now, LHS takes a breather with a bye next week. The Braves will now prepare for its Oct. 20 home showdown against Santa Ynez.
“Josh (McClurg) does such a good job on defense. I know their quarterback (Dustin Gregg) is also playing extremely well. I haven’t looked ahead and diagnosed them at all. But obviously, I’ll get started on that tonight,” Jones said of the Pirates. “Santa Ynez is a well-coached team. Luckily, we get them at home. The most important thing is that if we don’t know where Gabe Prendergast is at all times, we’re going to be in trouble.”
While the Braves have the future home date against the Pirates in two weeks, the future contests with Pioneer Valley have come to an end – closing a series that started in 2010 when LHS returned to the Los Padres League. The games between Lompoc and Pioneer Valley haven’t been close. Lompoc’s last three wins over the Panthers have been by a combined score of 151-10.
Effective next year, Pioneer Valley moves to the Central Section and will part ways with the LPL. Jones confirmed that PVHS isn’t on the Braves’ schedule for next year or any future schedules.
“It’s probably going to be the last time we’ll play them for a long, long time. We want to keep the tradition going and keep those rivalries, but as of right now, the only one that’s agreed to play against us is Arroyo Grande. From Paso to Santa Babara, AG is the only one that agreed to play us still,” Jones said.
Pioneer Valley will return next week to take on St. Joseph on the road, with the kickoff set for 7 p.m at Jay Will Stadium.
Santa Ynez 54, Morro Bay 0
Dusty Gregg broke his own school record, throwing seven touchdowns in Santa Ynez's road win.
Gregg went 17 for 20 for 356 yards and the seven touchdowns. His top receiving target, Gabe Prendergast, caught eight passes for 170 yards and 4 touchdowns, to break the school receiving record for touchdowns in a game.
Travis Vreeland added four catches for 100 yards and two more touchdowns. Trey Duus had a receiving touchdown and a rushing score. All of those stats for Santa Ynez was in the first half as the second half was played with a running clock.