The Nipomo Titans picked off four Cabrillo Conquistadores’ passes Friday night.
Those interceptions went a long way toward the Titans’ first win of the season, a 37-21 victory over the Conqs on Nipomo’s (1-4) homecoming weekend.
“It’s always good to get the win,” said Nipomo head coach Tony Dodge. “I thought our defense played really well in the first half, our offensive line had a huge game and our quarterback Brayden Groshart was in complete control of our offense again.”
“We played a good first quarter and a great third and fourth quarter but our second quarter was not very good,” said Cabrillo head coach AJ Pateras. “That’s how it’s been this year but we’re making progress. We’re going in the right direction.”
The first three picks were the most damaging.
Cabrillo (0-5) began the game’s opening drive on its own 20 yard line.
From there the Conqs marched and marched and marched downfield — 18 plays to get down to the five.
But when Cabrillo quarterback Jackson Anderson tried to throw a touchdown pass, Nipomo’s Wyatt Omohundro picked it off, ending the threat.
The game was scoreless until the first play of the second quarter.
On first down from their own 23, Jackson’s pass was intercepted by Nipomo’s Ricky Iniguez who took it back 35-yards for the game’s first score. Kyler Vernon’s extra point kick made it 7-0 with 11:49 left in the half.
Cabrillo fumbled the ensuing kickoff, giving Nipomo the ball near midfield.
The Conqs’ defense stiffened, forcing a 32-yard Vernon field goal attempt.
The Conqs rushed the kicker, blocking the attempt and keeping their deficit at 7-0.
But the next time the Titans had the ball, they cashed in, going on a 10-play, 90-yard drive.
Nipomo running back Luis-Diego Riquelme carried much of the load carrying the ball on the first four plays.
Twice during the drive, Nipomo quarterback Brayden Groshart caught Cabrillo looking for the run and went up top, first hitting Gage Wynn for a 13-yard gain, then later hitting Wynn again with a short pass that Wynn turned into a 34-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead with 4:51 left in the half.
On the night, Groshart was 7 for 14 passing for 92 yards. He also had a 40-yard run.
Then Nipomo just exploded, scoring two more touchdowns before the half was over.
Riquelme had a 10-yard TD run with 1:47 left in the half and then, after Nipomo’s Anthony Perez had the third interception of the half, Riquelme scored from 8-yards out with 34 seconds left in the second quarter for a 28-0 lead.
Riquelme had 146 yards rushing and two touchdowns in the half.
Riquelme ended his night with 220 yards rushing on 25 carries.
A Vernon 27-yard field goal put Nipomo up 31-0 with 8:30 left in the third quarter and when Wynn picked off Jackson for Cabrillo’s fourth interception on the next series, it looked like the game was over.
The Conqs forced a Titans’ punt and blocked it, recovering at Nipomo’s 34.
Two plays later, Jackson ran it in from the 26 to get Cabrillo on the board.
But they were down 31-7 heading into the fourth quarter and, unfortunately for the Conqs, they didn’t have enough time left on the clock.
Jackson scored again to make it 31-12 with 7:12 left in the game (the extra point run failed).
Nipomo then sealed the win when Riquelme, who looked like he was stopped in the backfield, broke through for a 35-yard touchdown run. The extra point failed but Nipomo was ahead 37-13.
"Those four interceptions were huge," said Dodge. "I thought the defense played a great game, especially in the first half and our offensive line stepped up big time."
Anderson scored again, this time from 5-yards out, with 2:22 left and with the two-point conversion made it 37-21.
“Jackson is building his confidence. This was only his second start,” said Pateras. “Every game so far we’ve been getting better. I’m positive we’ll be better. I’m encouraged for our future.”
Anderson completed 13 of 29 passes for 122 yards and had those four interceptions.
Joey Brown caught for of Anderson's passes for 40 yards and Danan Pacheco caught three for 52 yards.
Anderson was the Conqs' leading rusher with 65 yards on 23 carries. Tito Miza had 38 yards on 11 carries with Mason Townes gaining 2 yards on one carry as the Conqs were held to 105 yards rushing on the night.
“We’re close to where we need to be,” said Dodge. “We just have to keep improving and we’ll be ready to take on anyone when we get to our (Northern) league games.”
Cabrillo hosts Morro Bay next Friday night at Huyck Stadium.
Nipomo will host south San Luis Obispo County Rival Arroyo Grande next week.