Carpinteria’s first drive of the second half turned out to be a difference maker in Friday night’s non-league football game against visiting South Torrance.
Leading 12-10, the Warriors moved the ball from their 20 to the South 25 and appeared to be on their way to expanding their lead. But Jake Mandell of the Spartans picked off a deflected pass and the visitors capitalized with a go-ahead touchdown.
South scored twice more in the second half and handed Carpinteria its second straight loss, 28-20, at Carpinteria Valley Memorial Stadium.
After Mandell’s pick of an Ian Craddock pass, South drove 40 yards to take an 18-12 lead. Senior quarterback Kyle Nesbit scored the touchdown on a 1-yard run. The big play on the drive was a 26-yard run by Ryan Bowman.
The turnover changed the complexion of the game. Carpinteria suddenly struggled to sustain a drive, while South came up with big plays on third down. On their first series of the fourth quarter, the Spartans four times converted on third-and-long plays en route to a touchdown that put them ahead 25-12.
On third-and-8 from the 28, Nesbit scrambled for eight yards and a first down. On third-and-11 from the 35, Nesbit hit Anthony Peters on a screen pass and Peters turned it into a 17-yard gain. On a third-and-11 from the 48, Nesbit and Peters combined for a 12-yard pick up.
Workhorse running back Brandon Chavez delivered the demoralizing blow to the Warriors with a 40-yard touchdown run on a third-and-15 play. Chavez had a big night, rushing for 124 yards on 21 carries.
“He had a great night tonight,” South coach Josh Waybright said. “That run there at the end of the game helped us seal it.”
Carpinteria coach Ben Hallock said the third-down plays in the second half were backbreakers.
“We’d make two stops and let them go,” he said. “We didn’t hold them on third-down plays. They had a number of third-and-longs they got away with. We make those stops and we can turn the momentum a little bit. The worst part of it was we let them control the whole pace of it. They slowed the game down to a crawl basically and used the clock.”
“We have to dictate the pace of the game,” he added. “That’s going to be necessary for us to do.”
Carpinteria went three-and-out on its next possession and South took over and scored on a 37-yard field goal by Nick Campbell, increasing its lead to 28-12.
Hallock said South dropped eight players back into pass coverage, which made it difficult for the Warriors to move the ball through the air.
“We should be able to rush the football against that. We got to get that done,” said Hallock.
Craddock completed 8 of 22 passes for 110 yards and was intercepted twice. He was the team’s leading rusher with 64 yards on eight carries.
The Warriors finally put together a drive in the last two minutes of the game. Craddock scored the touchdown on a 5-yard run and Peter Ramos ran for the two-point conversion to make it 28-20.
“We just didn’t take advantage of our opportunities,” Hallock said about his team’s play. “We’re going to look at the things we need to do to win.”
After a South field-goal attempt from 47 yards fell short, Carpinteria stepped up its attack and drove 80 yards for a 6-0 lead. Craddock hit Anthony Rodriguez over the middle for a 40-yard gain to get the drive going. He followed with passes of 14 yards to David Olvera and a 19-yarder to Anthony Garcia before Peter Ramos bowled over from the 1 for the touchdown. A pass for a two-point conversion failed.
Nesbit led South to a 7-6 lead early in the second quarter. He completed 40-yard strike to Kevin Heinemann and tossed a five-yarder to Peters for the TD. Campbell kicked the go-ahead PAT.
Carpinteria responded with an 80-yard drive. Paul Cortez ripped off a run of 29 yards and Jonathan Esqueda followed with an 18-yard run for the touchdown. The run for a two-point conversion failed, leaving the Warriors ahead 12-7 with 2:20 to go in the first half.
Runs and a reception by Chavez helped South move into field-goal range before the half ran out, and Campbell booted a 27-yard field goal on the final play of the half to make it a 12-10 game.
After losing its first two games at home, the Warriors hit the road next Friday at Nipomo.
South Torrance…0 10 8 10 — 28
Carpinteria…6 6 0 8 — 20
C—Ramos 1 run (pass failed)
S—Peters 5 pass from Nesbit (Campbell kick)
C—Esqueda 18 run (pass failed)
S—FG, Campbell 27 yards
S—Nesbit 1 run (Nesbit run)
S—Chavez 40 run (Campbell kick)
S—FG, Campbell, 37 yards
C—Craddock 5 run (Craddock run)