Thayer provides early spark, ignites Royals to first victory

Andrew Thayer of San Marcos runs the opening kickoff up the field for a Royal touchdown.

Andrew Thayer provided the thunderbolt to San Marcos’ first varsity football game on its new turf field at the renamed Warkentin Stadium Friday night.

The lightning-fast Thayer returned the opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown to spark the Royals to a 24-0 win over Hueneme in a non-league game that was called with a little more than three minutes left in the fourth quarter because of thunder.

San Marcos was at the Hueneme 1-yard line when the thunder hit. Officials stopped play, talked to both coaches, and everyone agreed to end the game rather than wait the CIF-required half hour after the last thunderclap to be sure the storm system cleared.

San Marcos Athletic Director Abe Jahadhmy quipped that the thunder was a message from the late Jeff Hesselmeyer, the Royals’ coach who passed away during the summer.

The win was the first of the season for San Marcos (1-3) and the first for coach Dale Perizzolo.

“We showed everybody we’re better than an 0-3 team, and we proved that tonight,” Perizzolo said.

Asked how it felt to win his first game on the new home field, Perizzolo said, “It feels fantastic. It’s surreal. A year ago, or 10 years ago I never would never have thought myself doing this.”

The win also came on his wife’s birthday.

Thayer provided the magical start to the evening. He took the opening kick at the 6, followed his blockers, broke to the outside, turned on the speed and burst up the left sideline to electrify the sideline and the large San Marcos crowd.

“Andrew Thayer is such a good runner,” Perizzolo said. “He gets the ball, finds the hole, and he’s so quick on the outside and pulls away from guys. He has a nose to get in the end zone on those kick returns.”

“I saw the opening, hit the sideline and got a few good blocks there,” said Thayer.

The Royals featured Thayer’s speed on a reverse that he took 53 yards for a score, but it was nullified by a penalty. He also had punt return for a touchdown waved off by a penalty.

After the called back punt return, he helped set up the third touchdown by catching a 19-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Wesley Gibson.

“He’s all over the place. The kid runs so hard, so fast and so quick,” Perizzolo.

The Royals also got good performance from running back Tommy Nelson. Replacing the injured Marquis Glover, Nelson rushed for 118 yards on 24 carries and scored a touchdown.

“Tommy did really well. He ran hard and went forward,” Perizzolo said. “He hit the holes hard.”

After the game, Nelson did what any running back should do after a good performance: He gave props to his offensive line.

“I have to credit all the line. The line blocked great, they opened up all the holes and gave our quarterback time to execute.”

Perizzolo was pleased with the play of the offensive line.

“Our scheme, the guys really did well tonight. They performed, hit their blocks, kept their feet moving and grinding it out,” he said. “We’re typically undersized, so we have to be a bit faster and be smarter.”

San Marcos did all its scoring in the first half, and the Royals had two touchdowns nullified by penalties and missed two field goals.

The second TD was set up by a blocked punt by Victor Sanchez. John Wurts recovered the ball at the Hueneme 9, and two plays later Nelson scored on a 2-yard run for a 14-0 lead at the 3:15 of the second quarter.

After Hueneme (0-4) went four-and-out on its next possession, Thayer struck again with a 48-yard punt return for a touchdown. But the play was called back by a penalty at the 21-yard line.

The Royals eventually scored on a 3-play 36-yard drive. Ricky Lopez bolted through the line from six yards to make it 21-0 with 32 seconds left in the first half.

A Hueneme fumble set up San Marcos’ final score, a 31-yard field goal by Jose Godinez with 5.9 seconds left in the first half.

Hueneme came out strong in the second half and put together a good drive on its first possession. But the Royals’ defense stiffened. Garrett Hazarian sacked Vikings quarterback DeShaun Nixon for an eight-yard loss and their drive stalled at the San Marcos 13. Ricardo Venoncio attempted a field goal but Alex Macias of the Royals blocked it to preserve the shutout on a successful opening night on the new field at Warkentin Stadium.

Hueneme…0 0 0 0 — 0

San Marcos…7 17 0 0 — 24

First quarter

SM—Thayer 94 kickoff return (Godinez kick), 11:50

Second quarter

SM—Nelson 2 run (Godinez kick), 3:15

SM—Lopez 6 run (Godinez kick), :32

SM—FG 31, Godinez, :05

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