Charger football goes out on top

VENTURA – With time winding down and the weight of his world on his shoulders, Hayden Dow reached up and made a play to lighten the load of a troubled football community.

Dow broke up a fourth-down pass in the end zone with 2.9 seconds left Friday night to hold off a frantic comeback attempt by Buena and preserve a 17-9 Channel League football win for Dos Pueblos at Buena.

“It was just man defense,” said Dow. “The throw was perfect. It was right in (receiver Shane Bridge’s) hands. I just knew I had to pull it out for the team, for all the seniors. I just had to do it. I went up and got a hand on the ball. We both went down and when we got to the ground, he didn’t have it.”

The pass by Buena quarterback Rex Winslow, on a fourth-down play from the 13, was certainly on target, and came close to climaxing a dramatic rally in the final minutes. Working without any timeouts, the Bulldogs drove 88 yards to the Dos Pueblos 5 in less than two minutes, But they could get no closer. Two incomplete passes were followed by a sack of Winslow by Michael Rascon and the game-saving play by Dow.

It marked the second straight week the Bulldogs had rallied late, only to lose by a touchdown, noted Buena coach Cliff Farrar.

“It’s just very tough,” he said. “The same thing happened to us against Ventura last week. To come so close and lose two weeks in a row; it’s just very tough.”

For Dos Pueblos (3-7, 1-4), however, the victory was a small moment of respite from a tough couple of nights. The game was supposed to be a home game for the Chargers but was moved Friday because of the fast-moving wildfire that destroyed more than 100 homes in the Santa Barbara area Thursday night.

Although the Goleta school is a safe distance from the burn zone, head coach Jeff Uyesaka explained that many members of the school’s football community had homes that were either damaged or threatened. Hot, gusting winds Friday night were a constant reminder of why the game was moved.

“We have 600 transfers out at Dos Pueblos,” he noted. “One of our cheerleaders lost her home and (assistant coach) Lito Garcia has a house on the edge of the evacuation zone. He chose to be with the kids until the very end but I know he was very concerned.”

Dos Pueblos got all three of its scores on long drives. The first was a 15-play, 85-yard drive climaxed by a 1-yard touchdown run by Shane Taylor and PAT kick by Branden Tangle with 2:05 left in the first quarter. Anthony Houston ran eight times for 54 yards on the drive, part of a 30-carry, 175-yard rushing night for the 5-foot-10, 170-pound junior.

“It feels very good,” said Houston of his busy night. “The line really blocked great for me. Gabriel Ocampo and Bryan Heller were really doing a great job out there.”

Buena (4-6, 1-4) threatened to tie the game in the final seconds of the first half as junior quarterback Robert Munoz completed eight straight passes to take the ball to the Charger 5. But, on a third-down play, he was picked off by Brennan Eccles.

Eccles was one of several Charger seniors who were able to finish their career in style. In addition to the interception, he had a quarterback sack, caught four passes and drilled a punt 37 yards out of bounds to the Buena 7 to leave the Bulldogs with no margin for error on their final drive. Another was quarterback Jack Johnson, who completed 8-of-11 passes for 81 yards while leading the Chargers to both their touchdown drives. He also pulled in a pass from Houston with a fingertip catch.

 For Buena, on the other hand, Eccles’ interception was a gut-buster.

 “Not scoring at the end of the half was a killer,” said Farrar. “It really hurt our momentum.”

Instead, it was Dos Pueblos which left the field for halftime in high spirits and the Chargers returned in the same mood. Dos Pueblos took the opening kickoff of the third quarter and went 65 yards for a score on a 4-yard run by Houston.

Buena (4-6, 2-3), recaptured some momentum, however, when it went 72 yards for a score on a 27-yard run by Mike Davis that included several broken tackles and a key block downfield by Kane Hobbs. The PAT kick was missed. The Bulldogs kept the pressure on by recovering an onside kick and moving far enough to get a 38-yard field goal from Matt Dominick.

But the Chargers answered by marching 77 yards in 13, clock-killing plays before settling for a 20-yard field goal by Tangle with 2:21 to play. Junior quarterback Zach Boytis completed two passes to lead a drive that stalled on the Buena 3.

Dos Pueblos lined up as if it would try to score on a fourth-down play, but Uyesaka called time out and decided to send in the field goal unit.

“We decided to just play the odds,” he explained.

The Chargers appeared to hit the jackpot when Tangle drilled a squib kick on the ensuing kickoff and it bounced off a Buena player and into the hands of Taylor. But Buena used all its timeouts and forced a punt, giving the Bulldogs one last drive from their own 7.

Davis, who topped 200 yards in all-purpose yards, caught two first-down passes and busted a 20-yard run in the final drive while junior tight end Tyler Perry hauled in a 23-yard pass from Winslow. Their effort, however, was ultimately undone by Dow’s game-saving play at the left edge of the end zone.

“Dos Pueblos made a lot of plays,” said Farrar. “They converted a lot of third-down plays. Jeff did a great job getting them ready to play.”

Uyesaka, meanwhile, wanted to give Farrar some credit.

“The Buena coach was very gracious to us in allowing us to have our senior night here and to treat us as a home team,” he said. “We really appreciate how he handled it all. We’ll take this and try to build on things for next year. It’s a nice way to end, especially with everything that’s happened the last couple of days.”


Buena            0   0   6   3 — 9
Dos Pueblos  7   0   7   3  –  17
First quarter
DP – Taylor 1 run (Tangle kick) 2:05.
Second quarter
no scoring
Third quarter
DP – Houston 4run (Tangle kick) 3:36.
B – Davis 27 run (Domanick kick) 1:21.
Fourth quarter
B – FG Dominick 38, 9:08.
DP – FG Tangle 20, 2:21.

TEAM TOTALS          B           DP
First downs              21           18
Rushes-yards      34-150    42-195
Passing yards        153        105
Comp-Att-Int      14-24-1    11-14-0
Sacks-yards lost    4-21         1-5
Punts-avg.            2-32.5      2-37
Fumbles-lost            2-1         1-1
Penalties-yards       4-42        7-46
RUSHING — Buena: Davis 19-128, J.Beeson 4-10,  Winslow 6-minus-10, Anderson 4-24, Munoz 1-minus-2. Dos Pueblos: Houston 30-175, Johonson 4-6, Taylor 4-8, Jasso 3-6, Boytis 1-0.
PASSING — Buena: Munoz 8-11-1-78; Winslow 6-12-0-75; Davis 0-1-0-0. Dos Pueblos: Johnson 8-11-0-81; Boytis 2-2-0-24; Houston 1-1-13-0.
RECEIVING — Buena: Arvew 1-15, Perry 3-33, Bridge 1-8, Davis 6-66, Leiser 2-26, N. Beeson 1-9. Dos Pueblos: Eccles 4-50, Parsons 1-5, Valencia 2-10, Johnson 1-13, Ibarra 1-8, Pullido 1-10
Records: Buena 4-6, 1-4. Dos Pueblos 3-6, 1-4.