Santa Barbara can’t stop Guzman, St. Joe’s

St. Joseph and Santa Barbara High met at Peabody Stadium on Friday night.

St. Joseph and Santa Barbara High met at Peabody Stadium on Friday night.

Led by an outstanding all around performance from tailback Joe Guzman, St. Joseph held off Santa Barbara 28-21 at Peabody Stadium on Friday night. The star junior pulled off a touchdown trifecta with three touchdowns on the night including a reception, a punt-return, and a long rushing score.

“I am proud of the way the boys played but we have to eliminate mistakes. We had some good drives but we are not the type of team who can respond well to committing unnecessary penalties,” said Santa Barbara head coach JT Stone.

With only 6:29 remaining in the 4th quarter, the Dons were within striking distance of the Knights trailing 21-14. However, Guzman blew the game open with a clutch 68-yard touchdown run that put St. Joseph out of reach.

Senior cornerback Russell Enholm had a terrific night of his own for Santa Barbara with two key interceptions on defense and a late touchdown reception to keep the Dons within striking distance of the Knights. He also held St. Joseph’s star receiver Chris Barganier to only 2 receptions for only 3 yards.

When asked about Enholm’s performance, Stone responded: “We told Russ all week that his job was to stop Barganier. He rose up to the occasion exceptionally well and we are extremely proud of his performance. He’s a big time player for us and is a potential Division-1 caliber cornerback if he puts the effort into it.”

The night started off well for the Dons after a missed snap flew over the head of St. Joseph punter Slade Hooper. As a result, Santa Barbara got to start its first possession with the ball at the 4-yard line. On their first play, senior tailback Junior Garcia scampered into the endzone to put the Dons up 7-0 with 10:36 remaining in the first quarter.

The Knights responded quickly on their next drive with a nice throw from Blake Jaeckels to Guzman who slipped through a few Dons defenders before bursting through the seams for a 50-yard score. That touchdown tied the game at 7-7 with barely more than two minutes having elapsed since kickoff.

“They played a heck off a ball game but we have to get better plain and simple. I love the effort but the execution was not nearly at a high enough level. The silly penalties including personal fouls and unsportsmanlike conducts were really frustrating,” said St. Joseph coach Dustin Davis.

The game took a dramatic twist in St. Joseph’s direction after Guzman returned a punt 55 yards for a score that put the Knights up 14-7 with 5:50 left before halftime.

“I saw the defense going one way and I broke the other way which fooled them. Everyone saw me take off and my blocking enabled me to have lots of success tonight,” said Guzman.

On their first possession in the second half, St. Joseph scored on a 1-yard run from Chris Barganier to go up 21-7. That capped off a long 70-yard scoring drive for the Knights that ended with 7:33 remaining in the third.

With only 1:11 left in the third quarter, Santa Barbara trimmed St. Joseph’s lead to 21-14 on a 13-yard passing touchdown from Brent Peus to Junior Garcia. On the Knights next possession, Enholm picked-off a Jaeckels’ pass to give the Dons serious momentum.

“Tonight I just tried my best to make big plays in order to help our team win,” chipped in Enholm.

At the start of the 4th quarter, another failed drive forced Santa Barbara to punt once more, this led to Enholm getting his second interception on the night with 9:29 left in the 4th.

After a holding penalty backed them up 10 yards, the Dons had a beautiful 33-yard touchdown pass from Peus to wide-receiver Christopher Jellison called off as a result of an illegal formation. If not for this 15-yard infraction, Santa Barbara would have had an opportunity to tie the game. Instead, the Dons were forced to punt.

With only 1:18 remaining in the game and Santa Barbara trailing 28-14, Enholm caught a nice looking pass from Peus to score a touchdown. The 37-yard touchdown reception was a little too late for the Dons, who never fully got back into gear after numerous penalties killed their momentum.

“I think we played better tonight both offensively and defensively. It was just little mistakes such as penalties that crushed us especially,” Peus said.

Next Friday, Santa Barbara (0-2) heads on the road to take on Channel Islands.