Ramona’s Bulldogs opened the Valley League football season with a come-from-behind 38-35 win over Mt Carmel.
Ramona had to rebound from a plethora of first half mistakes and make adjustments on defense and special teams at half time to pull off the victory. The Dawgs are now 5-0 on the season and are 1-0 in the Valley League.
“Mt. Carmel is an outstanding team and they played very hard. We made too many mistakes on special teams and on defense in the first half. The defensive coaches and special teams coaches made great adjustments at halftime and we stormed back to find a way to get the win,” said Coach Damon Baldwin.
The Mount forced a three and out on Ramona’s first possession and took a 7-0 lead with 8:27 left in the first quarter.
Ramona then drove the length of the field and tied the score with a Tyler Jackson two yard run with 4:15 left in the opening period.
Mt. Carmel then scored fourteen points in two minutes and forty-nine seconds on an offensive drive and a punt return to go ahead 21-7.
The bulldogs stormed back with two touchdowns as Tyler Jackson rushed 17 yards for a score and Seth Drake grabbed an Erik Ernst pass. The Dawgs tied the score with only 42 seconds left on the clock in the first half. That 42 second was enough time for the Sundevils to reel off a long kickoff return and score on a 33 yard pass and leave 23 seconds for the Dawgs to try to tie the game. The score was 28-21 at half and the Dawgs had adjustments to make.
The Dawgs scored 10 unanswered points in the third period to take the lead. Bryson Garcia hauled down a 20-yard touchdown pass from Ernst and Colin Murphy drilled a Ramona 30-yard field goal as Ramona took a 31-28 lead going into the final period.
The never-say-die Sundevils scored with 5:06 remaining in the game to re-take the lead 35-31.
Ramona had to score a TD to win the game. Ernst opened the drive with an 18-yard pass to Quincy Watts, and the offensive line then cleared the way for Ramona’s ground game to score the winning TD.
Tyler Jackson scored from two yards out with 1:19 left on the clock, and the Dawgs led 38-35. Everybody in the Dawg Pound wondered if the Dawgs left too much time on the clock.
The Ramona defense forced a turnover and Ernst took a knee twice to preserve the win.
Jackson finished the night with 98 yards on 19 carries. Ryan Morgan rushed for 90 yards on 16 attempts. Logan Peterson had six carries for 13 yards.
Ernst completed eight of 12 passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns. He threw no interceptions.
Bryson Garcia had three catches for 38 yards and a TD. Seth Drake had one grab for 18 yards and a TD. Jackson, Trevor Kerchner, Watts and Preston Snyder also had catches in the game
Ramona’s special teams gave up a 75-yard kickoff return and a 62-yard punt return in the first half. The special teams turned the tide in the second half.
Nate Lutu downed a Rocco Hemphill punt inside the Mt. Carmel one yard line. The Sundevils were forced to punt, and the Dawgs converted the field position into a score.
Lutu also blocked a field goal to thwart a Sundevil drive.
Lutu was a big part of the defensive turnaround in the second half as he recovered a fumble when Andrew Stemm stripped a Mt. Carmel ball carrier. In all, defense forced four turnovers in the game. Matt Neylan fell on a Mt. Carmel fumble to stop a drive.
Colton Houlihan and Nathan Hunt both recorded eight tackles in the victory. Houlihan forced a the pass that led to Drake’s game winning interception. Trevor Kerchner recorded seven tackles and Dakota Rhodes had six tackles, one for a loss.
Seth Drake made two big defensive plays. Drake intercepted two passes in the second half. The first stopped a drive the second ensured the victory. Drake also made seven tackles in the game.
“We made some adjustments on how we defended the option and we put more pressure on them with blitzes. I am proud of the way the defense responded after a very bad half,” said Coach Ed Munyer.
Mt. Carmel outrushed the Bulldogs 213-194 and outgained Dawgs 420-291. The Dawgs responded when it counted.
This week the Dawgs face a much improved San Marcos. The Knights run the same offense that Mt. Carmel ran. It is an option offense and it gave the Dawgs fits. The Knights also run the same defense that the Sundevils ran.
It is Homecoming, so get to the Dawg Pound early if you want to sit on the Ramona side. The JV game starts at 4:30 p.m. and the varsity will kickoff at 7.