Peus, Dons finish strong, blank San Marcos, 37-0

Brent Peus and the Santa Barbara High football team took the suspense out of the 56th Big Game early Friday night.

Peus riddled San Marcos with four touchdown passes in the first half and five for the game, and the Santa Barbara defense registered its first shutout of the season, posting a 37-0 win over the Royals in the Channel League finale at Warkentin Stadium.

Now the Dons will sit on pins and needles for a day, waiting to see if they’re picked for an at-large berth in the CIF Western Division playoffs. The pairings will be announced on Sunday.

The shutout gives the Dons a 6-4 overall record and 2-2 in league.

“I do think with our 6-4 record and what we’ve done, our body of work and our schedule, I’m hoping that plays a factor,” said Santa Barbara coach JT Stone, who won his first Big Game. “I’m very confident we have a good shot to get in. If our kids get an opportunity to get in, it’s deserved. That’s why I’m hoping they give us the opportunity.”

Peus, who was named the winner of the Gary Blades Memorial Big Game MVP Award, said the team wanted to make a statement in the Big Game.

“After losing two league games and still having playoff hopes alive, we knew there was no choice but to come out and really perform and show that we still belong,” he said.

Senior quarterback Brent Peus was named the winner of the Gary Blades Memorial Big Game MVP Award.

Senior quarterback Brent Peus was named the winner of the Gary Blades Memorial Big Game MVP Award.

The Dons scored on their first five possessions. They started with an 81-yard drive, with Peus completing 5 of 6 passes for 61 yards. He finished the drive with a 1-yard touchdown pass to running back Sean Babock. Alea Hyatt kicked the first of her five PATs for a 7-0 lead at the 8:50 mark of the first quarter.

The drive was marred by an injury to junior receiver Chris “Tick” Jellison. He caught a 25-yard pass from Peus and got twisted around on the tackle and hit the ground in pain on the near sideline. The preliminary report was he suffered a broken leg.

“It was devastating to see that, he’s so tough,” said Peus. “You guys have seen some of the hits he’s taken running across the middle and on the sideline this year.”

Said Stone: “He’s a big loss He’s a big part of where our football program is today, especially offensively. He’s one of the most explosive receivers here in the 805. It’s hard to lose a kid like that. He’s done so much for our program. He comes back next year and he’s going to be an exciting football player.”

Dons defensive back Angel Velasquez picked off the first of three interceptions to start the second scoring drive. Peus connected with Mason Bigelow for a 13-yard touchdown pass for a 14-0 lead at 3:25 .

San Marcos fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Dons recovered at the Royals’ 24. Peus was a tad long on a pass to Blake Kelley in the end zone on third down, so the Dons sent in the field goal team. Hyatt converted from 34 yards for a 16-0 lead in the first quarter. It was her fifth field goal of the season.

Jeremiah Nicholson intercepted a San Marcos pass on third down to set up Peus and Co. at the Santa Barbara 42. After a 19-yard run by Babcock, Peus fired 13 yards to Bigelow and hit him again on a 20-yard pass for a touchdown and a 23-0 lead. Bigelow finished with nine catches for 102 yards.

The Dons defense continued to dominate as it forced a three and out on San Marcos’ next possession.

Dons linemen Emmett Rees, left and, Edwin Rivera, right, open up a hole for Sean Babcock.

Dons linemen Emmett Rees, left and, Edwin Rivera, right, open up a hole for Sean Babcock. (John Dvorak/Presidio Sports photos)

“They talked all week about shutting San Marcos out and the did a good job of that,” Stone said of the defense.

“We really emphasized it this week, putting up points and shutting them down,” said Nicholson, who delivered a jarring hit on San Marcos running back/quarterback D’Shaun Vines.

Santa Barbara used the hard running of Babcock and a 25-yard scramble by Peus to move the ball to the San Marcos 15. On first down, Peus found Donovan Zavaleta for his fourth TD pass.

“Donovan stepped in and did a wonderful job,” said Stone.

San Marcos put together its best drive of the half and picked up its first first down of the game with 2:45 left in the second quarter. The drive stalled and the Royals punted the ball back to Santa Barbara.

Peus completed three more passes before the half ended He finished 17 of 22 for 227 yards passing in the first half.

For the game, the senior was 22 of 28 for 289 yards. His last touchdown pass was a 17-yard to Kelley with 4:32 left in the third quarter.

For the 10-game regular season, Peus threw for 3,047 yards and 33 touchdown passes. He hopes to get a shot to add to those totals in the postseason.

After the three turnovers in the first half, San Marcos played better in the second half. They moved ball behind the running of Vines and Ivan Reyes. Reyes had 45 of his 75 rushing yards in the second half.

“That was the same game plan as the first half. We just executed better,” said San Marcos coach Anthony Linebaugh.

The Royals came close to scoring in the fourth quarter, as quarterback Luke Pollock drove them down to the 2. But they hurt themselves with an illegal procedure penalty and wound up giving the ball back on downs.

“You can’t make a mistake when you’re on the 2-yard line,” Linebaugh said. “It’s just disappointing.”