The Santa Maria Saints’ offense came to life against the Cabrillo Conquistadores Friday night.
The Saints (2-1) defeated the Conqs 46-24 in a non-league game at Santa Maria’s Ralph Baldiviez Stadium avenging a 22-15 loss to the Conqs last year in Lompoc.
The Saints could have scored more but mistakes got in their way.
“We had a rough first quarter, we fumbled the ball down there again,” said Santa Maria head coach Dan Ellington.
By “there”, Ellington meant the opponent’s one-yard line.
“This is the third game in a row that we’ve fumbled on their one on our opening drive and later we had a field goal blocked,” said Ellington. “The only thing that showed us down was ourselves.”
But they weren’t slowed for long.
On Cabrillo’s first offense play, quarterback Sean Wood was driven back into the end zone and tackled by Isiah Garcia for a safety and a 2-0 Santa Maria lead with 9:25 left in the first quarter.
“We didn’t get the touchdown but at least we got two points on that play,” said Ellington.
But a touchdown – several touchdowns – were not far away.
Santa Maria’s John Rojas had a nice return of Cabrillo’s ensuing free kick, getting to the 34 yard line.
On the next play, Truhitte rolled and rolled and rolled out until he was nearly at the sideline when he launched a rainbow to Jonathan Ramos who caught the pass at the Cabrillo 12 – a pickup of 54 yards.
Three plays later, Robert Ruiz blasted through the line for a 1-yard touchdown. Diego Villagran’s extra point made it 9-0 with 8:18 left in the quarter.
But a funny thing happened on the way to a blowout – Cabrillo’s offense came alive.
Starting at their own 30, the Conqs marched downfield on a nine-play drive.
Conqs’ quarterback Sean Wood made the big play to keep the drive alive.
Facing third-and-10, Wood was almost sacked twice but escaped each time, scrambled left then lofted the ball to JD Czajkowski who came down with a 38-yard pass reception.
When the drive stalled, Niko Glass came in and booted a 39-yard field goal.
When the Conqs scored on their next possession, Cabrillo took a 10-9 lead.
And it was a long, long drive.
Cabrillo needed 18 plays to move in for the score.
The big play was a 17-yard Wood run but the rest of the drive was just grind-it-out football with a 9-yard run the next longest gain in the 80-yard drive.
That is, until Cabrillo got down close to the end zone. That’s when Wood hit Dixon with a soft pass that Dixon bobbled like a hot potato, kept his eye on the ball, grabbed it and ran through traffic to score from 13-yards out. Glass’ extra point gave Cabrillo it’s only lead of the night with 7:58 remaining in the first half.
“Early on, I knew their quarterback was going to be good and he was,” said Ellington. “He was similar to the quarterback we faced last week at Santa Barbara. We had to adapt but we solved that problem.”
Wood did run for 85 yards on 28 carries but the Saints’ defense sacked him four times.
Wood completed his first five passes that were good for 63 yards and that touchdown but the Saints shut him down the rest of the way. Wood later left the game with an injury.
Santa Maria reclaimed the lead with 2:34 left in the half on a Truhitte 16-yard touchdown run.
And when Cabrillo fumbled the ensuing kickoff, Santa Maria was in excellent position to add to its score before the half.
Starting at the Cabrillo 33, Truhitte hit Garcia with a bullet that was good for 11 yards.
But Garcia was leveled on the play, drilled into the ground and he didn’t get up.
He was carried off the field by two teammates and didn’t return.
“This isn’t the same injury Isiah had last week,” said Ellington. “He recovered from that injury and was playing great. He looked good, he ran around pretty good – he’s just having bad luck.”
The extent of Garcia’s injury was unknown at press time.
“But that just means the next guy has to step up and our guys did,” said Ellington.
Two plays later, Truhitte lofted a floater to the back edge of the end zone to Jonathan Ramos. On tip-toes, Ramos made the 26-yard touchdown catch and the Saints were ahead 23-10 with 1:34 left in the half.
“Ramos was open all night. He got over the top and Blake made some great throws,” said Ellington. “Bobby Ruiz, Blake Truhitte, Johnny Ramos – they all played great tonight. But I have to mention our offensive line. Those guys were outstanding; they opened huge holes for our runners and gave Blake plenty of time to pass.”
After a Ramos interception, Ruiz responded with a 20-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter.
At the end of the third, Truhitte faked a handoff to Ruiz, pulled the ball back, found a hole through the middle and raced to the end zone for a 32-yard TD that made the score 43-10.
Villagran kicked a 38-yard field goal to put Santa Maria up 46-10 at the 7:48 mark of the fourth quarter and it was time for Ellington to bring in his backups.
Frank Lopez is the Saints starting middle linebacker and Marcos Moreno is a defensive tackle.
When he got the chance, Ellington gave them both a shot at running back.
Moreno has six carries that were good for 36 yards; Lopez also had six carries and picked up 38 yards.
“They are both really good defensive players. But they both dream of running the football,” said Ellington. “Tonight they got their chance and they did great.”
Cabrillo’s Wood was injured midway through the third quarter and Jackson Anderson came in at quarterback for the Conqs.
Anderson popped a 72-yard touchdown run at the 6:38 mark of the fourth.
Jackson later hit Czajkowski with a 34-yard TD pass to close out the scoring.
“It was a good night for Saints’ football. I thought it was a good high school game,” said Ellington. “Both teams played hard – a tip of the hat to Cabrillo and their head coach A.J. Pateras.”
Cabrillo heads home for its next game. They’ll play Templeton next Friday night at Huyck Stadium.
Santa Maria hosts Righetti next Friday night. It will be the Times High School Football Game of the Week at santamariatimes.com.
“Righetti, Pioneer Valley and Santa Ynez – that a big three in a row that we’ve got coming up,” said Ellington. “But it’s one game at a time. Our focus is now on Righetti.”
At halftime, Santa Maria held a special ceremony for the Saints’ 2017 CIF-SS Division 6 baseball champions. Their story will be online Saturday and in Sunday’s Santa Maria Times.
Santa Maria 46, Cabrillo 24
SM – Isiah Garcia tackles Cabrillo quarterback Sean Wood in the end zone, safety, 9:25
SM – Robert Ruiz 1 2un (Diego Villagran kick), 8:18
CAB – Niko Glass 39 field goal, 4:38
CAB – Ben Dixon 24 pass from Wood (Glass kick), 7:58
SM – Blake Truhitte 16 run (Villagran kick), 2:34
SM – Jonathan Ramos 26 pass from Truhitte (Villagran kick), 1:34
SM – Ramos 35 pass from Truhitte (kick failed), 7:53
SM – Ruiz 20 run (Villagran kick), 4:52
SM – Blake Truhitte 32 run (Villagran kick), 0:48
SM – Villagran 38 field goal, 7:48
CAB – Jackson Anderson 72 run (Glass kick), 6:38
CAB – JD Czajkowski pass from Anderson (Glass kick), 1:33
RUSHING: Cabrillo – Ben Dixon 1-(-1), Tito Miza 2-3, Mason Townes 2-2, Michael Macias 1-12, Jackson Anderson 9-106, JD Czajkowski 2-21, Sean Wood 28-85. Santa Maria – Robert Ruiz 15-118, Isiah Garcia 5-30, Frank Lopez 7-38, Sebastian Saiz 1-(-5), Marcus Moreno 7-36, Blake Truhitte 14-195.
PASSING: Cabrillo – Wood 5-9-0, 63. Anderson 7-14-2, 112 Santa Maria – Truhitte 5-11-0, 131. Saiz 1-3-0, 11.
RECEIVING: Cabrillo – Czajkowski 6-137, Dixon 1-13, Townes 2-12, Anderson 1-1, Joey Brown 1-14, Miza 1-9. Santa Maria – Jonathan Ramos 3-115, Kenneth Olpindo 1-11, John Rojas 1-5, Garcia 1-11.