When Lompoc High’s football team needed a spark to thwart a late comeback by former league rival St. Joseph, quarterback Cameron Iribarren rose to the occasion.
The elusive 6-foot junior marched the Braves down the field with multiple quarterback draws for huge gains, and kicker Aldoberto Anguiano capped the drive with a 37-yard field goal with 23 seconds left to give Lompoc a dramatic 24-21 nonleague victory Friday night at Huyck Stadium.
“You have to congratulate him,” said Iribarren of his team’s junior kicker. “I tried to help out the whole team by getting us in position to win, and he came in and kicked the field goal.”
With 2:42 remaining, the Braves (3-2) found themselves in a 21-21 tie and pinned back at their own 8-yard-line. Iribarren proceeded to run the ball six straight times in a hurry-up offense, breaking off runs of 9, 13, 20 and 12 yards in the process.
When Iribarren’s 12-yard run moved Lompoc to St. Joseph’s 29, the Knights (4-2) called a timeout with 1:02 left.
“During the whole game, we’d been huddling up,” Iribarren said. “As soon as we got into no-huddle, we just started hustling. All of that conditioning we do in practice really kicked in. We were battling and pushing every single play. We also started calling different plays — the QB draw plays. We had our receivers going deep with vertical routes, and I was dropping back a little, then taking off.”
Iribarren finished with 156 yards on 23 carries and a rushing touchdown. He also passed for another score — a 7-yard strike to Cullin Ranney — during Lompoc’s first-half flurry.
“He’s a baller; he was what was working,” said Lompoc head coach Andrew Jones of his quarterback. “We were just taking what they were giving us. We figured if we could get first downs, we could stop the clock. I knew we could get 10 yards a pop there, so I said, ‘Let’s do it.’”
An 8-yard run by senior Drew Williams and a 1-yard sneak by Iribarren set the stage for Anguiano to take the field and be the hero with his 37-yard boot.
“I can’t say enough about Aldo,” Jones said, referring to his kicker. “That was a nice kick he had at the end.”
Lompoc entered halftime with a 21-7 lead after outgaining St. Joseph 219-84 in total yards and limiting the Knights to just three first downs.
But St. Joseph fought back behind the passing of quarterback Chase Artopoeus and a staunch defense that gave the Braves fits in the second half.
The Braves were unable to muster a first down in the third quarter, while the Knights moved the ball on the ground and through the air. Fullback Billy Collins rumbled for a 16-yard touchdown to cut St. Joseph’s deficit to 21-14 with 1:43 left in the third.
As Lompoc failed to convert on a fourth-and-1 on its own 40-yard-line at the start of the fourth quarter, St. Joseph capitalized on the golden opportunity. The Knights needed less than two minutes to tie the game. Their six-play drive was capped with a Artopoeus 7-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Trevor Cole. One of Nathan Halsell’s three PATs evened the game at 21-21 with 9:13 left in the fourth quarter.
The Braves’ offense followed with another three-and-out with 7:07 left, giving a hot Knights offense an opportunity to continue their momentum. A drive that started on St. Joseph’s own 35 stalled at Lompoc’s 27, thanks to an intentional grounding penalty that moved the Knights back to the Braves’ 37.
The Knights opted to punt, and they pinned Lompoc deep in its own territory.
But that’s when the Braves found a spark with Iribarren.
“Our preseason schedule is brutal, and people count us out because we lost close games to tough teams, but our guys keep battling,” Jones said. “This is a great win against a Top 5 team in Division 1 of the Central Section. Hopefully, this will catapult us forward and get us ready for league play.”
Lompoc finished with 277 rushing yards, including junior Leondre Coleman’s 102 yards on 23 carries and a touchdown.