Monday, October 23 , 2017, 5:26 am | Fair 54º

 
 
 
 
Sports: A Noozhawk Partnership with The Lab and American Riviera Bank

Santa Barbara High Can’t Hang on to Early Lead, Falls to Royal 44-34

The Santa Barbara Dons couldn't hang on to a 20-7 first-quarter lead against non-league opponent Royal on Friday, eventually falling 44-34.

Junior quarterback Frank Gamberdella threw for 267 yards and two touchdown and also scrambled for an athletic 67-yard rushing touchdown. But Royal's potent offense took over in the second and third quarters and wore down the Santa Barbara defense.

The Highlanders (3-2) took a 24-20 lead into halftime and a 31-20 lead early in the third quarter as quarterback Ezekiel Savage led them to scores on four straight drives. Savage passed for 230 yards and three touchdowns.

The Dons (2-3) finally responded as Natani Drati intercepted Savage at the Santa Barbara 9-yard line, then turned a short pass from Gamberdella into an 87 yard reception, setting up a Jeremiah Phillips' 6-yard run to bring the Dons within five, 31-26. Drati scored from 25 yards out in the first quarter and caught three passes for 117 yards. 

Royal's offense simply could not be contained, and the Highlanders scored again on a Khyle Shiffer 9-yard rushing touchdown that put them up 37-26.

The squads traded scores in the fourth quarter, but Santa Barbara never came within one possession, and a failed onside kick attempt with three minutes remaining all but sealed the game.

Next, Santa Barbara hosts Pacifica on Saturday, Sept. 30 at La Playa Stadium.

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