Owen Lauderdale of San Marcos tries to get away from Pacifica linebacker Ezekiel Salazar after catching a pass.
Owen Lauderdale of San Marcos tries to get away from Pacifica linebacker Ezekiel Salazar after catching a pass. (Gary Kim / Noozhawk photo)

The San Marcos High School football team struggled to keep pace against Pacifica, one of the top contenders in a tough Channel League, on Friday night, dropping the contest 46-7 at Warkentin Stadium.

But for Royals coach Ralph Molina, the two toughest games of the Channel League schedule are out of the way and now the team can focus on its main goal of the season — to earn a playoff spot by finishing top four in the league.

“I just wanted to get through this without losing half my team and that we did so I’ll take this all,” Molina told Noozhawk after the game. “I’m happy about that, and we just go back to work Monday. This is a good group and they want to win, they want to get there. Our goals were never, ‘Hey, we’re gonna win this Channel League.’ Our goal is we want to get to the playoffs because if we get in man, we will make a run.”

With the win, Pacifica improved to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in league play, while San Marcos falls to 2-2 overall and 0-2 in Channel League.

It was all Pacifica in the first half, as the Tritons led by 43 at the break. The Royals forced a 3-and-out on Pacifica’s first offensive drive, but after that the Tritons scored on their next five offensive possessions before the end of the half.

Pacifica’s first touchdown came off a touchdown pass from sophomore Tagg Harrison, who connected with senior Tommy Alfaro on a 27-yard post route.

The Tritons followed that up with a defensive touchdown on the next possession as senior defensive tackled Antoine Henderson took an interception 21 yards for a score. 

Harrison tossed three touchdown passes Friday night, throwing for 89 yards while splitting time with fellow quarterback Dominic Duran.

Duran, a sophomore as well, tossed two touchdowns himself. 

Savion Taylor of Pacifica hauls in a pass behind San Marcos defender Landon Sheffey.

Savion Taylor of Pacifica hauls in a pass behind San Marcos defender Landon Sheffey. (Gary Kim / Noozhawk photo)

He connected with junior Jaiden Ransom on a 40-yard touchdown, the longest score of the game, in the first quarter to put the Tritons on top 20-0.

Pacifica would force a saftey before the end of the first to lead 22-0, then scored on their three offensive possessions in the third quarter to take that commanding 43-0 lead into the break.

San Marcos did not convert a first down in the first half, but recovered a fumble late in the second quarter. 

Molina said a lot of the team was “sick with the flu” this past week, including senior quarterback Josh Engel, who didn’t start the game because he only practied once this past week.

He eventually came into the contest late in the first quarter.

“They were gassed. They tried to play, but we just weren’t even sure who was going to show up tonight and with the caliber of talent they got, you got to show up,” Molina said.

Pacifica managed to get a field goal in the third quarter to lead 46-0 and in the fourth quarter, the Royals scored their only points of the contest when Engel connected with junior wide receiver Luke Crawford on a 4-yard touchdown.

On that scoring drive, San Marcos drove 71 yards on 11 plays, converting a fourth down along the way.

Now, Molina has his eyes set on Buena of Ventura next week at home, a game he believes the Royals can win and will be the big difference in them making that postseason run.

“We know next week is the biggest game for the season for us at this point because it’s a game that I really believe we can win,” Molina said. 

“It’s exciting for the players. I have been talking about this since spring. I knew what the schedule was. I knew our situation… We have to knock off one of these big Channel League teams and Buena is the first one, then we head into the bye and we take our chances with the second half of the league schedule.”

San Marcos hosts Buena next Friday at Warkentin Stadium at 7 p.m.