Booting two clutch field goals and blocking a field-goal attempt in a wild fourth quarter helped Santa Barbara High stave off a late Lompoc comeback and escape Huyck Stadium with a 27-21 Channel League football victory Friday night.
The win puts the Dons in sole possession of first place and ends a 43-game win streak in league games for the Braves, who won the Channel League last year.
After a dominant performance in the first half that resulted in a 21-7 lead at halftime, the Dons needed key plays on special teams from junior kicker Ty Montgomery and his teammates Charlie Figueroa and Jackson Gonzales to preserve the victory.
With the game tied 21-21 in the fourth quarter, Montgomery connected on a 45-yard field goal to give the Dons a three-point lead with 8:25 remaining. When the Braves lined up for a 42-yard field-goal attempt on their ensuing possession, Figueroa managed to bust through the line and block the kick while Gonzales scooped up the ball for a return into Lompoc territory.
Montgomery later added a 26-yard field goal to cap the scoring. The win gives the Dons records of 6-2 overall and 3-0 in league, while Lompoc falls to 5-3, 2-1.
“I’m so proud of my boys tonight,” said Dons coach J.T. Stone. “Lompoc is a good football team, but I tell our guys if you show up and play football, you’re going to be fine. That’s what they did tonight.”
Lompoc defensive adjustments, penalties and dropped passes caused Santa Barbara’s offense to sputter in the second half. When Montgomery lined up for the 45-yard attempt, the Dons had seemingly squandered a promising late drive, but the junior kicker had just enough leg to give his team the lead.
“I just swung hard at that spot, and it felt like I hit it pretty good, but you never know if it’s going straight until you look up, to be honest,” Montgomery said. “The momentum of the game was going back and forth, and that was adding stress to a game that was already a huge game for us. It felt like it all came down to the last second.”
Santa Barbara started strong with a passing attack led by junior quarterback Deacon Hill, who was 11-of-14 passing for 205 yards in the first half alone. He connected with wideout Moki Nacario with scoring strikes of 69 and 10 yards, then rushed for a touchdown to account for the Dons’ first-half scores.
The 69-yarder was Hill’s first passing attempt of the game. It followed a timeout with 5:24 left in the first quarter.
“We worked on that particular play all week long,” Stone said. “People ask me all the time why I love coaching. It’s moments like this. These kids worked hard all week long. When you see a group work hard and accomplish something, it’s gratifying. It helps when you have a guy like Deacon, who can read a defense and pull the trigger. That’s one play worked on all week, and he did what he was supposed to do.”
Lompoc, whose offense was held to just 88 total yards in the first half, came out with a vengeance in the second half. The Braves were fueled by the spirited rushing attack of senior Leondre Coleman, who finished with 92 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown before leaving the game with an injury in the third quarter.
“I honestly think that if Coleman could have finished the game, it could have been a different ballgame,” Stone said. “He’s a helluva football player. Coming into this game, we talked about stopping him and (Ryan Morgan) — those are two good players.”
Lompoc quarterback Cavin Ross helped cut his team’s deficit with a fourth-down pass that resulted in a 25-yard touchdown to wideout Cailin Daniels. The scoring strike cut the Dons’ lead to 21-14 in the third.
Braves running back Sheldon Canley later scored on a 3-yard run with 3:43 left in the third to tie the game at 21.
But the Dons’ late-game heroics from its special teams sealed the victory.
“We’ve been working hard for six years to get to this point,” Stone said. “We played them strong. We made a couple mistakes, but I knew we could come in here, play football with the kids that we have and have a chance to win tonight.”