Big first half propels DP to 49-14 win over San Marcos

Dos Pueblos is playing such good football right now that if opponents don’t match its intensity and execution during the first half of games, they’re going to be in for a long evening.

Santa Barbara found that out last week and San Marcos did on Friday night.

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Quarterback Barrett Burnes threw three touchdown passes to Matt Sessler during a 35-0 first half, Tyler Welch ran for 136 yards and a score, Leshon Bell rushed for three more touchdowns and the Chargers recovered a pooch kickoff and picked off two passes in a 49-14 rout of San Marcos at Scott O’Leary Stadium.

“We want them to come out like that and get the momentum going,” DP coach Nate Mendoza said of the impressive first half. “It’s tough (for an opponent) to come back when you get an early lead.”

The victory gave DP the City Championship, evened its overall record at 4-4 and put it on a path toward a Channel League title with a 2-0 mark.

It’s cool for us,” Mendoza said after beating Santa Barbara and San Marcos. “We played for a city championship today, next week we’re going to play for a chance to play in the league championship game in week 10.”

San Marcos, meanwhile, suffered its third straight loss, fell to 0-2 in league and 5-3 overall.

“I’m really disappointed that we didn’t give ourselves a chance,” San Marcos coach Anthony Linebaugh said. “They’re a really good team, and you don’t want to give a good team breaks. We just made mistakes.”

Just like it did in beating Santa Barbara last week, Dos Pueblos took control early in the game. Welch set up the first touchdown with a 49-yard run to the San Marcos 13. Four plays later, he dived over the line for a 3-yard touchdown. Daniel Buratto kicked the first of his seven PATs to get the Chargers off to a 7-0 lead at 3:11 of the first quarter.

Less than two minutes later, Ryan Nuno picked off a pass from San Marcos quarterback Wesley Ghan-Gibson, putting the Chargers in business again at the Royals’ 25. On first down, Burnes rolled out and hit the 6-5 Sessler on a 25-yard scoring strike.

The Charger defense dominated San Marcos in the first half, limiting it to 63 total yards.

The next time DP got the ball, Burnes completed a 27-yard pass to Bell and finished the 63-yard drive with a 25-yard slant to Sessler for a 21-0 advantage at the 9:14 mark of the second quarter.

Sessler said DP’s offense is more diversified this season.

“As a whole, DP always has been a running team, but we have some outside threats at receiver,” Sessler said. “As an offense, we’re really starting to click, solidfy as a unit and be able to points on the board. As you can see from this week and last week, it’s a good thing.”

San Marcos’ defense stepped up and held the Chargers on downs, and the Royals started to move the ball behind the running of Esteban Alfaro. But on a third-and-five from the DP 45, a blitzing David Blevins crashed into the backfield and dropped Alfaro for a 1-yard loss.

Once DP got the ball back, Welch gained 19 yards on a screen pass from Burnes and Bell finished off the possession with a 25-yard option keeper for a touchdown and a 28-0 lead.

Said Mendoza: “We don’t seem as one dimensional as we were last year. It’s hard for other teams to prepare for those two quarterbacks.”

On the ensuing kickoff, Dos Pueblos surprised the Royals with pooch kick and Connor Kanen recovered the ball at the San Marcos 29. Three plays later, Burnes and Sessler hooked up for a third time on a 27-yard score.

“It’s a career best,” Sessler said of the three TD catches in one game. “I’m happy it came in this big game against San Marcos. It’s exciting. We wouldn’t be able to do it without the O-Line blocking, and our running game opened up the passing game.”

San Marcos matched the execution and intensity on its first possession of the second half. The Royals drove 72 yards in 15 plays and scored a touchdown on a 2-yard run by Cameron Whitney.

A bad snap on a DP punt led to the Royals’ second score. They recovered at the Charger 4 and Alfaro ran in for the touchdown.

The Royals looked good but the DP lead was too big to overcome.

“You put yourself in a such a big hole it’s near impossible to come back,” Linebaugh said. “Hopefully we’ll have that type of approach next week.”

Welch would get DP back on track with an electrifying 43-yard run late in the third quarter. He broke tackles and showed incredible balance after taking a big hit. Welch finished with 125 yards on 13 carries and was named the winner of the Jeff Hesselmeyer Memorial Award as the game’s MVP.

“He hits the hole real hard,” said Mendoza of the senior running back. “We’re happy to have Tyler back nice and healthy. His made a big difference for us.”

Said Sessler: “Tyler Welch is putting up big number, and our reeivers put up big numbers today. We got the dual attack now, we can pass and run.”

Mendoza has been pleased with the play of Burnes, who passed for 123 yards.

“Burnes is just doing a great job for us,” said the coach. “I’m really hard on him because I see the potential and I just want him to keep getting better. Him and Matt and Leshon are a nice little trio.”

Bell scored on a 1-yard run to make it 42-14 and he scored again on another 1-yard run with 2:13 left in the game.

The last two games have shown Mendoza the team is following his motto of keep getting better.

“I felt the guys came out hungry like they did last week. I’m real proud how the defense is playing and I’m proud at how they just keep getting better,” he said.

“Going into league, we didn’t have the best record but we were clicking as a team and we got that feeling in the locker room, and we knew we had something special,” said Sessler. “Our first halves have been great; our defense has played phenomenally this game and last game.”

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