Chargers’ quick start is too much for Santa Barbara

It was the perfect start to the Channel League season for the Dos Pueblos football team on Friday night.

The Chargers came into Santa Barbara’s Peabody Stadium and took care of business. They scored on their first three possessions, shut down the Dons’ up-tempo offense and rolled to an impressive 28-12 victory.

Tyler Welch ran for two touchdowns and intercepted a pass to lead Dos Pueblos, which led 28-0 at the half.

“The kids were just really fired up and you can tell in the first half,” DP coach Nate Mendoza said. “Special teams was good, offense was good and defense was good. We hit all three phases of the game in the first half.”

Leshon Bell of Dos Pueblos tries to get around Santa Barbara defender Alex Calderon.

Leshon Bell of Dos Pueblos tries to get around Santa Barbara defender Alex Calderon.

DP made a statement right off the bat, forcing the Dons to go three and out on their first possession.

DP got its hands on the ball at the Santa Barbara 36 and Welch broke off a 36-yard run on first down.

“I have to thank my left guard and left tackle, Liam Stimson and Brandon Duran,” said Welch, who had been ailing with a lower back injury.

“It’s been a rough 2-3 weeks trying to get healthy,” he said. “I have to give a shout out to Dr. Brisby. He definitely helped me to come back. I thank him a lot for being here and Tylenol. Thank you, Tylenol.”

Welch, who rushed ?for 80 yards on 15 carries, finished the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run at the 8:03 mark. Daniel Buratto kicked the first of his four PATs.

Welch made an impact on defense, too. On Santa Barbara’s next possession, he picked off quarterback Brent Peus at the DP 45 and returned the ball to the DP 24.

“Our D line got a good push on the quarterback and he threw a bad ball, and it was up for grabs,” said Welch, who was named the Player of the Game.

DP quarterback Barrett Burnes completed a pass to Leshon Bell, who took it down to the 1-yard line. On second-and-goal, Welch plowed into the end zone for a 14-0 lead at 6:30 of the first quarter.

The Chargers defense, led by middle linebacker David Blevins and linemen Eric Botello, Austin Pearce and Stimson, held the Dons in check again and forced them to punt. Angel Davison returned the ball 54 yards to the Santa Barbara 1. Blevins scored on first down for a 21-0 lead.

“Coach Mendoza and his staff did a great job,” Santa Barbara coach Doug Caines said of DP’s fast start. “They had a great game plan and they executed it to perfection.?We didn?t make adjustments quick enough. It’s the ame old deal, we didn?t execute. We damned sure didn?t play with the speed we expect to play with. That didn?t help. They took us out of our game.”

Santa Barbara started to get into an offensive flow after DP missed on a 43-yard field goal attempt. The Dons were moving the ball behind runs from Cheroke Cunningham and the passing of Peus, but a fumble derailed the drive. Blevins recovered the ball for DP at the Charger 37.

The Chargers went right to work with Burnes and Bell both taking snaps at quarterback on the drive. Burnes finished it off with with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Conner Kanen with 32 seconds left in the half.

“Hats off to Barrett. He continues to keep a real calm demeanor, which is what you want from your QB. He had a nice game,” said Mendoza. Burness completed 13 of 17 passes for 131 yards.

Welch said Mendoza reminded the team about last year’s loss to Santa Barbara, which cost the Chargers the outright league title.

“Our coach has been reminding us all week about them sliding on our field (after last year’s game),” said Welch.

“We came out with the attitude we’re on the road, we have a chip on our shoulder from last year, it’s the first game of league. All of those good things,” said Mendoza.

Santa Barbara finally got its up-tempo attack going in the fourth quarter. After a fumble recovery by Alex Guardarrama at the 5, Peus directed an 18-play drive. Ramon Harper got the Dons on the scoreboard with a 1-yard run. The PAT kick failed.

Santa Barbara then recovered an onside kick. Peus passed 35 yards to Jonah Iwanaga for the touchdown.

“We know we can score fast if we can execute at a fast level. It was a little tool late,” said Caines.

The result leaves both teams with 3-4 records.