Royal Heartbreak

San Marcos Surrenders 21-0 Lead in Loss

Santa Maria running back Samuel Herrera breaks free from the San Marcos defense for one of his three touchdowns.

Victor Bryant

Santa Maria running back Samuel Herrera breaks free from the San Marcos defense for one of his three touchdowns.

A 21-0 lead wasn’t enough for the San Marcos High football team to capture its first victory of the season, as visiting Santa Maria stormed back in the second half to secure a 29-28 victory on Friday night at Warkentin Stadium.

The Saints capped off their improbable comeback with a touchdown at the 2:40 mark of the fourth quarter, cutting their deficit to 28-27 via a six-yard touchdown run by Samuel Herrera. On the ensuing extra point Kenneth Olpindo corralled a bad snap and took off around the edge towards the end zone.

A swarm of San Marcos defenders met Olpindo at the goal line, but he powered through to the end zone, giving Santa Maria a 29-28 lead.

“It ended up being a lucky play after all,” said Santa Maria coach Dan Ellington of the two-point conversion. “It was a bad snap and my little Kenneth, he’s our mini mouse guy, he got it into the end zone somehow.”

The Santa Maria comeback erased a phenomenal effort by San Marcos quarterback Ben Partee, who completed 24-of-40 passes for 343 yards and four touchdowns. Partee’s go-to receiver Josh Brown Hauled in 11 catches for 197 yards ad two touchdowns.

The Royals’ air show brought them to the brink of victory, but it was not to be.

“I’m really proud of those guys,” said San Marcos coach Jason Fowle of Partee and Brown. “We fixed some things on the perimeter and although we had some lapses in focus on special teams I thought our focus in the passing game in terms of completing passes and converting on situations when we needed to convert was a lot better, so definitely something to build on.”

Partee connected with Brown on touchdown passes of 49 and 12 yards in the first half as San Marcos took a 14-0 lead into the locker room at halftime. The Royals then took the opening kickoff of the second half and marched 65 yards on ten plays, capped off by a nine-yard touchdown pass from Partee to Tommy Schaeffer.

It appeared that San Marcos would continue to roll after the Royals forced a Santa Maria three-and–out on the next possession, but San Marcos muffed the ensuing punt setting up the Saints with excellent field position.

One play later, Herrera was celebrating in the end zone following a 17-yard touchdown run.

After three quick plays and a punt by San Marcos Herrera found pay dirt again after chewing up 58 yards on two carries, including a 24-yard touchdown run that brought Santa Maria within 21-14. The Saints evened the score at 21-21 on a diving catch by Rodrigo Rodriguez in the corner of the end zone with 1:26 remaining in the third quarter.

Herrera, who is only a sophomore, finished with 117 yards on 14 carries and three touchdowns.

“My senior had some cramping issues, we threw him out there and he kind of sparked us,” Said Ellington of Herrera’s performance.

The Royals retook the lead on a 53-yard screen pass from Partee to Schaeffer with 4:54 left in the game.

San Marcos had just over two minutes on the clock to respond once Santa Maria took a 29-28 lead, but on 4th-and-3 from around midfield Brown was ruled out of bounds on a catch near the sideline.

There was mass confusion after the play as the chains were moved and three of the four officials seemed to be preparing for a San Marcos first down. However, the official on the sideline reiterated his initial call shutting the door on a San Marcos victory.

St. Bonaventure 27 Bishop Diego 3

The shorthanded Cardinals suffered their first loss of the season after being ranked No. 1 in the most recent CIF-SS Division 4 poll.

Santa Barbara 32 Ventura 24

The Dons defeated their second consecutive former Channel League rival to open the season 2-0.

Santa Ynez 14 Carpinteria 7

One year after losing to Santa Ynez 63-0, Carpinteria cut its deficit to 14-7 on a touchdown pass from Vance Keiser to Brady Sturdivan, but couldn’t complete the upset.