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Frankie Gamberdella Does It All for Santa Barbara in Big Game Romp

Quarterback runs for 4 touchdowns, passes for 2 in 48-0 homecoming victory

Frankie Gamberdella Click to view larger
Santa Barbara High quarterback Frankie Gamberdella outruns the San Marcos defenders on a 62-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. (Gary Kim / Noozhawk photo)

It didn’t seem to matter how San Marcos lined up to defend against Santa Barbara High quarterback Frankie Gamberdella in the 59th Big Game.

The Dons’ senior quarterback was not going to be stopped in the final crosstown football game of his high school career.

Gamberdella ran for four touchdowns and passed for two more to lead Santa Barbara to a 48-0 victory in the Channel League opener for both teams on Friday night before a crowd of more than 5,000 at a misty Playa Stadium.

Santa Barbara improves to 4-2 overall while San Marcos falls to 1-5.

It was the fourth straight Big Game victory for the Dons, who lead the series 35-24.

Gamberdella, for the second year in a row, was named the winner of the Gary Blades Big Game MVP Award. He rushed for 130 yards on just six carries, with three of his rushes going for touchdowns, 2, 62 and 5 yards.

In the passing department, he completed 7 of 15 for 212 yards, including scoring tosses of 71 yards to Moki Nacario and 27 yards to Jake Knecht.

“It’s fun,” he said of the crosstown game. “I just wanted to come out here pretty hot because it’s my last one and I’m going to miss it, so I want to make it last.”

Santa Barbara’s defense also was ready for the Big Game on its homecoming night. It bottled up San Marcos running back Tommy Schaefer and made things tough for quarterback Ben Partee all night. The Dons limited the Royals to a 134 yards in total offense.

Defensive end Jeremiah Phillips was a handful for the Royals to block. He recorded four sacks in the game, three of them coming in the first half.

“The defense played great. The only thing I have with the defense this game is we actually shot ourselves in the foot with terrible penalties,” Santa Barbara coach JT Stone said. “But I’m very proud of they way they played. They wanted to pitch the shutout and they did.”

Jake Knecht Click to view larger
Santa Barbara wide receiver Jake Knecht beats and San Marcos defender and hauls in a 27-yard touchdown pass. (Gary Kim / Noozhawk photo)

Down 14-0, San Marcos recovered a muffed punt and put together a good drive.The Royals got down to the Santa Barbara 6. On fourth and goal, they faked a field goal and Andrew Aragon threw a touchdown pass to Josh Brown. The score, however, was nullified by an illegal procedure penalty.

On the repeated fourth down, they attempted a 28-yard field goal and missed it wide right.

“We left it all on the field,” San Marcos coach Jason Fowle said of this team’s play. “Those guys played hard. They gave a great effort. That’s all you can ask for when you play a good team like Santa Barbara.”

Gamberdella led Santa Barbara to a score on its first possession. Starting with a 31-yard pass to Dakota Hill, he moved the Dons 69 yards in eight plays and capped the drive with a 2-yard run around left end for a touchdown on fourth and goal. Ty Montgomery kicked the PAT for a 7-0 lead at 7:02 of the first quarter.

The next time he got his hands on the ball, Gamberdella ran a belly option, kept the ball and took off for a 62-yard touchdown. Montgomery’s kick gave the Dons a 14-0 lead at the 4:40 mark of the first quarter.

“Going into the game, we knew that I was going to have to run the ball a little bit more,” Gamberdella said. “That was the plan going into the game, but I didn’t think I’d be running the ball that much. But it worked.”

He added: “I always feel faster on this turf, it’s good turf, and the adrenalin is pumping extra hard."

Stone was glad to see Gamberdella mixing it up.

“The biggest thing for us was try to establish the running game, so we didn’t have to have Frankie throwing the ball 40-50 times a game,” he said.  I’m happy where he’s at. I thought he did a good job. Our game plan this week was great and he was effective. We’ll take it.”

Fowle said playing against a dual-threat player like Gamberdella is tough.

“We tried to pressure him. We figured if we sit back, they’d probably pick us apart, or try to run the ball on us if we try to spread it out with their sets,” he said. "So, we thought we’d pressure him and try to get him to make a decision. He did a good job stepping out of the pressure and finding the 1 on 1 coverages."

After San Marcos missed its field goal, Gamberdella hit Narcario over the middle on second and 1, and Nacario sped 71 yards for the score and a 21-0 lead in the second quarter.

San Marcos got a scare on its next possession when Partee went down in pain after throwing a pass. He was able to walk off the field under his own power.

Partee was back on the field the next time the Royals got the ball and stayed in the game until hurting his leg again after being sacked in the final two minutes.

Santa Barbara scored one more touchdown before half and, again, it was Gamberdella finding the end zone on a 5-yard run, capping 68-yard drive. The big play on the drive was a 49-yard Gamberdella pass to Hill.

Gamberdella finished his night at quarterback with a 45-yard touchdown dash and perfect pass to Knecht for a 27-yard score in the third period for a 41-0 lead.

He played wide receiver on the last touchdown drive in the fourth quarter and caught a 14-yard pass from back-up quarterback Deacon Hill. 

Hill fired a 40-bomb to Jackson Gonzales and finished the drive with a 17-yard scoring toss to Justin Perez.

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