With the score tied 14-14 in the third quarter on Friday, Buena took control of its own destiny against San Marcos by scoring 13 unanswered to secure a 27-14 Channel League victory.
Buena, 2-0 in Channel League play, has won four straight.
“It’s just good to be on the winning side this year,” said Bulldogs running back Ben Salazar, who took a majority of Buena’s carries in the second half after starter Chris Beeson hobbled off the field with a hurt ankle late in the second half.
Beeson was hurt on his 13th carry with 68 yards and a touchdown to his name.
Buena took a 14-7 lead into halftime but San Marcos marched 80 yards on their first possession of the second half, scoring on a 5-yard run by Alex Ortega.
From there, Brad Montgomery kicked two field goals, Noah Martinez caught a 6-yard TD pass from David Corral, and Salazar totaled 107 rushing yards.
“It’s really big because it’s one step closer to making playoffs but it should have been a bigger win,” said Corral.
“We weren’t playing our game. We weren’t playing to our full potential.”
Corral connected with receiver Dylan Colman for the longest play of the game. On the first play of a possession, Corral found Colman on a deep route down the left sideline. Colman shook two tacklers on his way 92 yards to the endzone.
“It was big play. It was two of our best players stepping up at the right time and being able to answer,” said Bulldogs head coach Tim Gutierrez.
Colman finished with six catches for 124 yards and a touchdown.
San Marcos got a big-time performance from running back/linebacker Esteban Alfaro. The Royals gave Alfaro the ball on over half of their offensive snaps. The junior rewarded his team with 153 yards on 25 carries, including a 29-yard scoring run in the first half.
“I was trying my best,” Alfaro said. “For the team, I did it for the team. Every yard.”
San Marcos bounced back from being shut out the week before to give the homecoming crowd an exciting game that wasn’t decided until well into the fourth quarter.
“We’re excited for the season. It’s not over yet,” Alfaro said. “We’ve got two more games. We’re gonna go out there and play hard.”
Buena will take its 2-0 record into next week’s game with Ventura.
The Royals have “The Big Game” at Santa Barbara High.
“Nothing could please them more than to get their first CHannel League win this season against us at their place,” noted Royals head coach Anthony Linebaugh. “Tremendous challenge but, honestly, I’ve played in rivalry games before; it brings out the best in both sides.”