Victory slips away from Dons in the fourth quarter

robert berwick

Greyhounds junior Quarterback Robert Berwick breaks a low tackle to convert a first down against the Dons. (James Crosby Photos)

The Santa Barbara High football?team is going to feel the sting of its first loss of the season for a while.

The Dons let an 11-point fourth quarter lead slip away and suffered a heartbreaking 35-31 defeat against Atascadero on Friday night at Peabody Stadium.

Don’s Quarterback Shawn Ramos rears back to throw for a completion in the third quarter. Ramos passed for four touchdowns on the day.

Santa Barbara quarterback Shawn Ramos had a spectacular game, completing 21-of-30 passes (including 11 completions in a row) for 340 yards and four touchdowns. But his performance couldn?t make up for a rash of penalties by the Dons.

The game turned around after Santa Barbara failed to score a touchdown when it had a first-and-goal at the 1-yard line early in the fourth quarter . A penalty ? one of 14 by the Dons ? pushed the ball back to the 5 and the Atascadero defense rose to the occasion and kept them out of the end zone. Matt Medina?s 22-yard field goal gave the Dons a 31-20 lead with 8:12 to go.

?We gave the game away,? Santa Barbara coach Doug Caines said. ?Not taking away anything from them, they?re a great football team. We put ourselves in position to win and, I don?t know the yardage on penalties, but it was embarrassing.?

Following the field goal, Atascadero answered with a touchdown. After a couple of 12-yard runs by slippery running back Jonathan Torres and quarterback Robert Berwick and a 20 yarder by running back Ethan Hicks, Berwick busted through the Santa Barbara defense for a 13-yard score. A two-point conversion run by Torres cut the Greyhounds? deficit to 31-28 with 6:44 left in the game.

Santa Barbara moved the ball to the Atascadero 31 and Medina tried a field from 48 yards but it fell short.

The Greyhounds responded with two big plays to score the winning touchdown with 2;26 to go. Torres broke loose for a 21-yard gain and Berwick followed with a 59-yard pass to tight end Dominic Chance, who broke away from his defender on a crossing route.

Santa Barbara had time to drive down the field, but it shot itself in the foot with a penalty on the kickoff return. That put the ball back to its 9. Ramos completed a 7-yard pass to James Stevens, but the Dons were penalized five yards on the next play. Facing a third-and-8 from the 11, Ramos threw a long pass that fell incomplete and the Greyhounds sacked him for a 7-yard loss on fourth down.

Atascadero (2-1) ran out the clock to hand Santa Barbara the stunning defeat.

Torres gave the Dons trouble all night, rushing for 144 yards on 17 carries and scoring three touchdowns.

Ramos got the Santa Barbara fans charged up with an amazing effort. After scrambling from defenders, the senior found Daniel Gonzalez open on the left sideline and he turned it into a 45-yard touchdown play at 6:27 of the first quarter.

Atascadero came right back after a 70-yard kickoff return by Torres. The Greyhounds tied the score at 7-7 on a 4-yard Torres run off right tackle.

The Dons had a touchdown nullified by a pair of penalties and missed on a 34-yard field goal try. Their defense, however, forced the Atascadero to punt, and Ramos led the team to a touchdown. He hit Emilio Gonzalez on a 4-yard strike to put Santa Barbara back into the lead at 14-7 with 4:03 to go in the first half.

The running of Torres helped set up Atascadero for the equalizing score. Torres would do the honors on a 2-yard run.

Santa Barbara?s Daniel Gonzalez recovered a fumbled kickoff return to start the second half, and the Dons cashed in, with Ramos passing 11 yards to Emilio Gonzalez for the touchdown and a 21-14 lead.

The lead increased to 28-14 when Stevens hauled in a 37-yard bomb from Ramos.

?He did the best he could and he was leading the team out there. He did a great job.? said Caines of Ramos.

On the other side, Berwick kept their composure, as the Atascadero quarterback drove his team 65 yards in seven plays for a touchdown. The PAT failed when the holder fumbled the snap and was tackled by Jason Jimenez, leaving the score at 28-20 with 1:19 to go in the third quarter.

The Greyhounds couldn?t stop Ramos and the Dons. He hit Stevens for 37 yards and Jonah Iwanaga for 12 yards, and Jimenez rumbled down to the 1. Santa Barbara ended up stopping itself with an illegal procedure penalty.

The game turned around after that call.

Emilio Gonzalez caught two touchdown passes and Daniel Gonzalez and Stevens caught one each for Santa Barbara (2-1).

Atascadero?7 7 6 15 ? 35
Santa Barbara?7 7 14 3 ? 31

First quarter
SB?D. Gonzalez 45 pass from Ramos (Medina kick), 6:27
A?Torres 4 run (Bell kick), 4:19
Second quarter
SB?E. Gonzalez 4 pass from Ramos (Medina kick), 4:03
A?Torres 2 run (Bell kick)
Third quarter
SB?E. Gonzalez 7 pass from Ramos (Medina kick), 9:41
SB?Stevens 37 pass from Ramos (Medina kick), 4:13
A?Torres 12 run (bad snap), 1:19
Fourth quarter
SB?FG, 22 yard, Medina, 8:12
A?Berwick 13 run (Torres run)
A?Chance 59 pass from Berwick (Bell kick), 2:26