Santa Barbara drops the ball at Buena

Santa Barbara High was done in by the turnover bug and an opportunistic Buena football team, falling 35-22, in a Channel League game on Friday in Ventura.
The Dons turned the ball over five times and fell behind 21-0 in the first half.
Noah Martinez rushed for four touchdowns and passed for another for Buena, which improved to 2-0 and is tied for first place with Ventura. Santa Barbara fell to 1-2 in league and 4-5 overall.
“The defense has stepped up a ton,” Buena coach Gutierrez told the Ventura County Star. “We’ve got some guys in place who have made some plays, and we’ve switched some guys around. They’re understanding the dynamics of the defense.”
Buena’s defense was at its best in the first half as the Bulldogs held the Dons to minus-7 yards rushing and forced five fumbles. Junior safety/linebacker Mason Beiling recovered two of them, one of them leading directly to a Bulldogs touchdown and the other stopping a long Santa Barbara drive.
“It’s good to have (Beiling) back,” Gutierrez said. “That’s one of the guys I’m talking about. He’s a guy we missed. He missed a few weeks due to injury, but he’s back. He’s a smart player and he’s a student of the game.”
Beiling’s second fumble recovery, late in the second quarter, was very likely one of the key plays of the game.
After being completely shut down by Buena in its first four possessions, Santa Barbara engineered a 13-play drive from its 20-yard line to reach the Buena 3. On the 14th play, Buena’s Tyler Olivares stripped the Dons’ ball carrier at the 1 and Beiling recovered in the end zone, helping Buena preserve a 21-0 lead.
“That was a huge play,” Gutierrez said. “At that point I felt they get more momentum. Those are the things I’m talking about.”
Buena also had to make a significant lineup change in midweek when starting quarterback Martin Mijares, who has passed for more than 1,600 yards this season, suffered a knee injury and may be lost for the season. Martinez, who normally starts at slot receiver, took over the quarterbacking duties and finished with 123 yards passing and another 54 on the ground.
Gutierrez thought the offense responded very well with Martinez calling the signals.
“Early on we did some good things,” Gutierrez said. “There were some times where we sputtered in the third quarter. But he came in and did a good job managing the football game.”
Martinez’s four touchdown runs came on plays of 1, 9, 10 and 3 yards. He later connected with Blake Burnett on an 8-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter.


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