Dons can’t recover from bad first half at Royal

Santa Barbara High found itself playing catch-up in the second half and ended up falling to Royal, 37-28, in a non-league football game Friday night in Simi Valley.

It was the second straight loss for the Dons (3-2).

The Dons fell behind 16-14 after the Highlanders recorded a safety when the snap on a punt sailed over the punter’s head and the punter kicked the ball out of the end zone with 2:22 left in the second quarter.

Royal got the ball back and immediately capitalized, scoring a touchdown on a 46-yard pass from quarterback Matt Sciumbato to Ryan Pench go up 23-14. The Highlanders intercepted a Brent Peus pass and added another TD before halftime on a 36-yard pass from Sciumbato to Pench to take a 30-14 advantage at intermission.

Santa Barbara came out strong in the second half and scored on its first possession. Peus hit Mason Bigelow on a 65-yard pass play, and the Dons converted a 2-point conversion to make it 30-22. Bigelow caught 10 passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns.

But Royal (3-1) responded with a Diego Reynoso touchdown run to go up 37-22 with 4:54 left in the third quarter.

Isai Figueroa ran 3 yards for a Dons touchdown, cutting the deficit to 37-28 with 10:22 to go in the game.

Santa Barbara’s defense rose to the occasion and stopped the Highlanders. But the Dons offense was derailed when Royal intercepted Peus for the third time.

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