Hueneme’s size advantage in the trenches wore down Carpinteria, and the Vikings converted a costly turnover late in the fourth quarter into the winning touchdown and beat the Warriors 27-20 in a Citrus Coast League football game on Friday.
Hueneme’s Jose Gonzalez intercepted a pass that bounced off Carpinteria receiver Jacob Mata, giving the Vikings the ball at the Warriors’ 16-yard line with a little more than two minutes left in the fourth quarter.
The Vikings scored when 240-pound running back Levante Boyd powered through Carpinteria defenders from 6 yards out for the go-ahead touchdown with 33 seconds to play. Pablo Rangel’s PAT gave them a 27-20 lead.
Carpinteria recovered a squib kick and started its drive for a potential tying score at its 40 with 33 seconds left. On first down, quarterback Vance Keiser threw over the middle to Brady Sturdivan for a 15-yard pickup and Hueneme was flagged for two major penalties, moving the ball to the Vikings’ 15.
With 15 seconds to go, Keiser threw an incomplete pass on first down. On second down, he tried to hit Jacob Macias in the end zone but the ball was batted in the air and David McMillon of Hueneme grabbed it and ran out the clock, giving the Vikings their second straight league win after going 0-4 in non-league play.
“It’s going to be like that, all of them, almost always,” Candaele said of the games in the balanced Citrus Coast League.
Carpinteria fell to 1-1 in league and 4-2 overall.
Candaele said his team’s lack of success running the football against Hueneme’s big defensive line was a key factor in the game.
“We couldn’t move them inside very much, so we kind of got one dimensional throwing the ball, which is OK if we make a lot of plays,” he explained. “We left a lot of plays out there, especially in the first half. We just seem to not connect on the ones we had, so it came down to the last play.”
It also didn’t help that Carpinteria turned the ball over five times in the game.
“We just have to not turn the ball over so much and establish a running game and make a few more plays,” Candaele said.
The Warriors fell behind 7-0 when Boyd took a swing pass from quarterback Ethan Neos and rumbled 24 yards for the score.
Carpinteria answered with a 54-yard, nine play drive. Keiser shot-putted a pass to Sturdivan from 2 yards with two seconds left in the first half to put the Warriors on the board. Tito Arroyo kicked the PAT to tie the score at 7-7.
The Warriors delivered some big hits on defense and forced Hueneme to punt from its 16 in the third quarter. Macias fielded the punt and ran behind a picket of blockers for a 47-yard touchdown. The PAT was missed, leaving Carpinteria ahead 13-7 at 3:24 of the third period.
Hueneme answered behind the power running of Boyd. He broke off a 39-yard jaunt to put the ball at the Carpinteria 1. Two plays later, Neos plowed into the end zone. The Vikings, however, missed the PAT and the score was tied a 13-13 wit 28 seconds left in the third quarter.
Carpinteria went three and out and Hueneme continued to pound the Warriors with its running game. McMillon sprung outside and raced 47 yards to the 10. He rushed for him 175 yards on 20 carries.
A fumbled snap by Neos pushed the ball back to the 16, but the Vikings got all the yards back on a TD pass to Boyd. Rangel’s PAT gave them a 20-13 lead with 8:08 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Carpinteria answered quickly as Sturdivan won a jump ball with McMillon on a long pass from Keiser and the big receiver raced down the sideline to complete a 64-yard touchdown play. Arroyo’s kick the score at 20-20 with 7:47 left.
An inspired Warriors’ defense stepped up and forced Hueneme to punt. The offense took over at its 14 and lost seven yards on first down and three on second. Keiser found Mata open over the middle but the ball popped out as he was hit and the Vikings recovered it.
That set up the Vikings for the eventual winning score.
“I was pleased with our boys battling back, coming all the way down (the field),” Candaele. “We almost got that tip in the end zone.”
— Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.