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Wednesday, January 23 , 2019, 5:32 pm | Fair 59º

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Arroyo Grande Spoils Lompoc’s Home Opener, 24-10

Loss is first for the Braves at Huyck Stadium since 2012 CIF playoffs

A potent rushing attack led by quarterback Kadin Byrne propelled Arroyo Grande to a 24-10 victory over longtime non-league rival Lompoc High on Friday night, handing the Braves their first home football loss in Huyck Stadium since 2012.

The Braves (2-2) were coming off a convincing 36-10 win over defending state champion Bishop Diego, but Arroyo Grande (3-1) arrived with a sound game plan, rushed for 279 yards and executed on both sides of the ball to stifle Lompoc’s momentum.

The last time the Braves lost a game at home was to Serra High during the CIF Western Division Semifinals in 2012.

“At the end of the day, it’s on me,” said Lompoc coach Andrew Jones. “We had a horrible week of practice. I think our guys were thinking about how we just beat Bishop Diego, but we were coming up against a physical AG team that executes really well. We missed a lot of opportunities on offense, and we had some mental breakdowns on defense.”

Byrne, a 6-foot-1, 220-pound senior, led the way, lumbering for 130 yards on 16 carries with two touchdowns, including a 52-yard scoring run late in the second quarter that dealt a blow to the Braves.

Trailing 7-0, an interception by Lompoc defensive back Andrew Galindo gave the Braves a first down at the Eagles’ 41-yard line. Three plays later, the Braves found themselves facing a fourth-and-5 at the 36.

Lompoc chose to go for it, and quarterback Cameron Iribarren seemingly scrambled for the key first down, but he was marked down at the spot where he started his slide, which was just short of the line to gain.

Arroyo Grande took over on its own 32, and, five plays later, Byrne faked a handoff and rumbled 52 yards for the touchdown, giving the Eagles a 14-0 lead with 3:12 left in the half.

“That was the turning point of the game,” Jones said. “If we get that spot, maybe we score or maybe we pin them deep so they don’t score on us. Our guys couldn’t recover from it, but you can’t just blame it on a bad spot. Combine that with our red zone deficiency and a lot of opportunities where we couldn’t take advantage.”

Lompoc started the second half with junior Ryan Morgan pouncing on a muffed kickoff, giving the Braves prime field position at the Eagles’ 13. After three plays and a false start penalty on fourth down, Lompoc settled for a 28-yard field goal by Aldoberto Anguiano to cut the deficit to 14-3.

The Eagles’ next possession was stymied by Lompoc’s defense. Linebacker Leondre Coleman dropped a runner for a loss on fourth down, giving the Braves the ball on Arroyo Grande’s 30. Lompoc managed to reach the 11-yard-line, but a fumble on a third-and-3 allowed the Eagles to regain possession and end the Lompoc threat.

“Lompoc is a good, physical football team, and we knew what we were up against,” said Arroyo Grande coach Mike Hartman. “We were able to play our cleanest game of the year so far. On defense, we were playing hard and making tackles. On offense, we executed well with our running game. Tonight, we took a serious step forward as a team.”

Arroyo Grande would add a 42-yard field goal by Colton Theaker and later a 3-yard scoring run by Byrne to give the Eagles a 24-3 lead with 4:42 left in the fourth.

Lompoc added its final score when senior Dechlan Sparrow was inserted at quarterback after a roughing the passer penalty knocked Iribarren out of the game. On his first snap, Sparrow promptly connected with Morgan on a 63-yard scoring strike with 3:44 remaining.

Coleman led the Braves with 60 yards rushing on 13 carries. Iribarren finished 4-of-14 passing for 23 yards and an interception.

“We, as a staff, have to re-evaluate how best to get our guys to be more consistent,” Jones said. “(Iribarren) shows flashes of being a great quarterback, but he can be inconsistent. He’s young and has a lot of room to grow, but I have to get better at getting these guys motivated. Hats off to AG. They did a great job.”

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