Chargers batter Braves with potent running attack

Dos Pueblos' Michael Spiritisanto scrambles out of trouble but could not complete the pass.

Like all offensive linemen, Felipe Cruz spends most of the game grunting, groaning, pushing and shoving in a sumo-style wrestling match. Most of time, when he looks up, he’s looking straight into an opponent’s face mask.

And so you understand how it looked from his perspective Friday night to watch Charger running backs Joshua Bartley and Michael Spiritosanto combine for 310 yards rushing and four touchdowns in a 45-21 win over Lompoc at Scott O’Leary Stadium.

Dos Pueblos' Brandon Johnson stops Lompoc's Marcel Blow from gaining any ground.

“It’s just the best feeling … great,” said the 288-pound senior. “Watching Josh break for the end zone or Mike going in for the end zone, that is just beautiful to watch.”

Bartley totaled 210 yards on 16 carries, and scored on runs of 44 and 19 yards. He also ripped off runs of 49 and 27 yards, giving Cruz and his fellow linemen plenty of downfield moves to watch. Spiritosanto scored on runs of 19 and 1 yards, totaling 100 yards on 17 carries. He also flipped an 11-yard touchdown pass to Tommie Arias.

Dos Pueblos led 24-0 at halftime and 38-7 before the teams began trading touchdowns and substituting liberally in the fourth quarter.

“We tried to run it down their throat and see if they could handle it,” explained Bartley. “They couldn’t stop the run.”

For Dos Pueblos coach Jeff Uyesaka, the biggest plus was the relentless tempo the Chargers maintained while switching through a variety of formations and personnel combinations.

Dos Pueblos alternates between standard and shotgun snaps and rotates Spiritosanto between running back and quarterback, among other variations.

DP's Josh Bartley makes a cut through a hole on Friday night.

“We’re just trying to be versatile,” he said. “We have lots of ways to get those guys the ball and the tempo is very important. Even the games we have lost, the tempo was there, and it was there 100 percent tonight.”

As a player, assistant and head coach, Uyesaka noted that he’s often been on the losing side of the longtime rivalry. That experience, he said, made nights such as Friday a moment to savor.

“Anytime you beat Lompoc, it’s a good day,” he said.

And to beat them badly?

“That speaks for itself,” he added. “They have a great history and great coaches, so we know they’ll be back and that this won’t last forever. So we’ll just enjoy this for tonight.”

For Lompoc, the evening was made more painful by the loss of senior quarterback Evan Aguilar to a knee injury early in the second half. Head coach Andrew Jones was not optimistic about an early return.

“We’ll have to see but I’d say he is out indefinitely,” said Jones.

Lompoc opened the game with a fumble on its first play but held the Chargers and responded soon afterward with an apparent touchdown on a 66-yard connection between Aguilar and a wide-open Drew Sapp. But the play was nullified by a penalty and Lompoc never seemed to recover.

Hunter Harris jump-started Dos Pueblos with a 35-yard punt return that resulted in a 31-yard field goal by Nicolai Bornand near the end of the first quarter.

A 20-yard return by Harris put the Chargers in good position again and Bartley broke loose for his 44-yard score despite a busted play the resulted in a handoff that popped high into the air. Bartley probably should have called for a fair catch but he grabbed the ball instead and began to dodge his way through the center of the line and past several grasping attempts at tackles by the Braves.

“We worked on that play all week,” joked Uyesaka.

From this bit of serendipity, however, the Chargers turned into a model of efficiency. Bartley capped a short drive with a 19-yard run and Spiritosanto matched it on a third-and-11 play with only 20 seconds left in the half. Having the confidence to run the ball in that situation said a lot about the way the Chargers were dominating the line of scrimmage.

“They physically beat us up,” said Jones. “When that TD got called back, it seemed we fell apart a bit. We didn’t block and we didn’t tackle. But hats off to Dos Pueblos. That 20 and 23 (Spiritsanto and Bartley) are both very good playmakers.”

Lompoc was able to find its offensive rhythm as the half went on, however. Backup quarterback Luciano Lopez led an 85-yard drive capped by a 4-yard win by Jordan Collins.

The teams continued to swap scores and clean jerseys for dirty ones in a wild fourth quarter. After Spiritosanto scored on a 1-yard run, sophomore Jovan Coleman burst for a 91-yard touchdown for Lompoc to make it 38-14. Nao Yamamoto ran five times for 71 yards to lead a scoring drive by Dos Pueblos reserves and capped it with a 1-yard run. Bornand nailed his sixth PAT.

Coleman followed with a 9-yard run for Lompoc, giving him 128 yards on just six carries. Fellow sophomore Taylor Cornejo ripped off a 57-yard run to set up that last score. Lompoc, in fact, finished the game with 314 yards rushing on 42 carries to nearly match the 373 yards in 41 carries compiled by Dos Pueblos.

With the way the turf was being churned up by running backs Friday night, Dos Pueblos will be needing the artificial-turf playing surface it is raising money for sooner rather than later.

Lompoc ……….. 0 0 7 14 — 21
Dos Pueblos ………….. 3 21 7 14 — 45

First Quarter
DP—FG Bornand 31, 0:32.
Second Quarter
DP-Bartely, 44 run (Bornand kick) 8:25.
DP-Bartely 19 run (Bornand kick) 5:12.
DP-Spiritosanto 19 run (Bornand kick) 0:09.
Third Quarter
DP-Arias 11 pass from Spiritosanto (Bornand kick) 4:15.
L-Collins 4 run (Morales kick) 1:28.
Fourth Quarter
DP-Spiritosanto 1 run (Bornand kick) 11:57.
L-Coleman 91 run (Morales kick) 6:43.
DP-Yamamoto 1 run (Bornand kick) 4:16.
L-Coleman 9 run (Morales kick) 2:39.

First downs 8 12
Rushes-Yards 42-314 41-373
Passing Yards 19 13
Total Yards 333 386
Passes (Comp-Att-Int) 3-6-0 3-4-0
Punts-Avg. 5-29 5-37
Fumbles-Lost 3-1 1-0
Penalties-Yards 6-40 4-20

RUSHING–L: Coleman 6-128, Cornejo 3-63, Blow 12-49, Aguilar 5-12, Collins 8-66, Sapp 3-6, Lopez 1-3, Kucharski 1-3, Dealba 1-minus-17. DP: Bartley 16-210, Spiritosanto 17-100, Yamamoto 5-71, Thorp 2-4, Adams 2-minus-11.
PASSING–L: Aguilar 3-5-19-0; Lopez 0-1-0-0. DP: Spiritosanto 3-4-13-0.
RECEIVING–L: Drew 1-8, Blow 1-10, Kucharski 1-1. DP: Harris 1-6, Bartely 1-minus-4, Arias 1-11 .
RECORDS–L 2-2, DP 2-2.

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