Sheldon Canley Jr. started Friday night's game.

He also ended it.

Lompoc's star running back opened the scoring in the game against Righetti with a 69-yard touchdown run on the first play of scrimmage for the Brave offense. 

As Righetti scratched and clawed its way back into striking distance, Canley broke away for a game-clinching 74-yard touchdown run with two minutes left, helping the Braves come away with a 42-20 win.

Canley also scored on a powerful six-yard run early in the fourth quarter, giving him three scoring runs on the night.

The San Diego State commit put the Braves on his back in one of the more special performances the area has seen in awhile.

"Honestly, that's one of the better performances I've seen by a running back and I've coached some of the greatest running backs on the coast in the last 15 years," Lompoc coach Andrew Jones said of Canley's performance. "I mean, he's scrappy, he's hard to get down. If I'm going to be truly honest, our offensive line struggled all night.

"He was making guys miss. It was on him. He was the one making the plays. There weren't too many holes out there."

Jones added: "That was one of the better performances where I've seen a guy single-handedly do it."

Righetti coach Tony Payne certainly respected Canley's performance.

"He's a Division I football player and we don't see a lot of those dudes around here," Payne said. "When you see it, it's obvious. I know that my guys were impressed playing against him. 'Coach, he's tough.' That kind of athlete is going to make you pay for mistakes and that's what I expect him to do all season, to every team they play."

On Canley's opening scoring play, he received the handoff from quarterback Cavin Ross and found some space up the middle. Canley was met by a linebacker, who went low, forcing Canley to spin toward his sideline to break the tackle attempt. Canley then sprinted up the Lompoc sideline and raced past the Righetti defense for a nearly 70-yard touchdown. 

The Lompoc defense then forced a Righetti punt, which actually netted negative yardage and set the Braves up with incredible field position at the Righetti 24.

Ross capped the short drive with a bruising 13-yard touchdown run where he ran over a defender at the three and bowled into the end zone, giving the Braves a 14-0 lead. 

But the Righetti offense found some rhythm and cut the Lompoc lead to 14-6 as junior quarterback Braden Claborn hit Cooper Bagby on a corner route in the end zone on a well-executed 11-yard touchdown play. 

Both offenses stalled for much of the second quarter. So, Lompoc phenom Deville Dickerson decided to give his team a kickstart.

Dickerson scored four times in the Braves' 48-27 win over Paso Robles last week, including touchdowns on kick and punt returns. Righetti, apparently inadvertently, punted to the dynamic playmaker, who fielded it at the Righetti 45. Dickerson made an initial defender miss just as he fielded the punt, then broke to his right, found the edge and took it to the house for a third return touchdown in just two games this fall.

That gave Lompoc a 21-6 lead with five minutes left in the opening half. 

Righetti cut Lompoc's lead to 21-12 on another Claborn touchdown pass, this one to Elias Martinez, who had a big game. Martinez ran a deep in and Claborn hit him in stride with a bullet pass. Martinez caught the ball at the 15 running toward the middle of the field, he then cut right toward the end zone and sprinted past two more defenders on a 36-yard touchdown. Martinez also had an interception on defense, as did Righetti's Jacob Nelson.

Lompoc led 21-12 at halftime. The Lompoc passing attack found some more rhythm on the opening drive of the second half, with Ross hitting some timely throws to Dickerson and Nelson Maldonado.

Ross capped the drive with a crisp pass to Rudy Elizondo, Ross’ second read, in the back of the end zone to put the Braves up 28-12 with 7:30 left in the third quarter. 

The Braves went up 35-12 on Canley's 6-yard touchdown run with 9:10 left in the game. On that play, Canley spun out of a tackle after receiving the handoff, then plowed through a couple Righetti defenders to score. 

Righetti then responded with a dazzling play from Claborn and Bagby. At the Lompoc 34, Claborn took the snap and rolled right as Bagby ran an out-and-up pattern. Claborn rifled a pass to Bagby, who then ripped through a tackle and raced past two more defenders to find the end zone. 

Claborn then found Brian Monighetti on the two-point conversion to make the score 35-20 with 3:31 left. 

Then came Canley's game-clinching run. With Lompoc facing a third-and-29 from its own 26, Jones dialed up a simple draw play for Canley, hoping to just pick up a first down or at least give the Braves some breathing room. 

The draw play sucked Righetti's defense in, creating plenty of running room for Canley, who took advantage of the space, getting up to full speed in a flash. Canley initially tilted to his left, but then changed direction, heading to his right and sprinting past a gang of defenders who didn't stand a chance at catching the speedster. 

That score took the air out of the stadium and sealed the Braves' 42-20 win. 

"It was just a lead draw but we went in with a little unbalanced formation," Jones said of the game-clinching play call. "We made sure we got the coverage we wanted. That's the bread-and-butter play right there."

Jones himself sprinted toward the end zone as Canley broke away and let out a brief smile and pumped his fist toward the Righetti sideline. 

Later, he admitted Friday's win was a little sweeter after Righetti beat Lompoc 28-21 in 2019 when Payne's Warriors scored 28 unanswered points.

"It was a little uncomfortable spot, we hadn't put them away yet," Jones said of his reaction. "To put them away felt good. Plus, a couple years ago, we literally gave them a game. It was like a charity, we just handed them a game. We wanted to get them back, especially being at their place. 

"It was a good win."

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