By Bill Tamburrino
After the Ramona High School varsity football team’s hard fought and controversial 31-28 loss to Rancho Bernardo in the Palomar League opener for both teams Friday night, Coach Damon Baldwin had a message for his Bulldogs.
“I am proud of the way that you played. You played hard the entire game. You fought back from a big deficit. I hate it when a bad call costs athletes a chance to win. But one call or one play does not win or lose a game. We have to go back and work on the fundamentals on both sides of the ball. We have two very tough games ahead of us and we are pretty banged up (several injuries to key players). Hopefully the trainer will be able to get some of our players ready,” Baldwin told the team.
The spectators from Ramona and Rancho Bernardo could not have asked for a more exciting game. Both teams played exciting offense and there were several individual and team highlights.
The momentum changed more times than the stands by politicians on key issues in this an election year.
The two teams traded scores in the first two periods. Ramona scored first on a 6-yard Nathan Cherek run with 45 seconds left in the first quarter. Rancho Bernardo scored to tie the game 73 seconds later.
Ramona then answered with a 32-yard touchdown pass from Hunter McHargue to Javier Dominguez. Tyler Vargas made the second of four PATs and the Dawgs had a 14-7 lead.
The momentum then changed in favor of the Broncos. The Broncos scored two touchdowns to take a 21-14 lead at halftime, and then added to their lead as they scored a touchdown and a field goal to lead 31-14 with just over six minutes left to play in the third period.
The Bulldogs then recaptured the momentum and drove 96 yards on the ground. Brandon Gansch went the final yards to make it a 31-21 ball game.
Ramona scored early in the fourth quarter on a 19- yard pass from McHargue to Garrett Binkley to make it a one possession ball game at 31-28.
Ramona dominated the fourth quarter but two controversial calls cost the Dawgs a chance to win or tie the game. The first questionable call came when Gansch appeared to make a first down on a fourth down play. The officials’ spot favored the Broncos and upset the Bulldog fans and the Bulldog staff.
The Ramona defense held and the Dawgs got the ball back with less than two minutes left in the game. With 24 seconds left on the clock, McHargue tried to hit Dominguez inside the 15 yard line. There was contact on the play that resembled the call that got the replacement refs replaced in Seattle. RB intercepted the pass with Dominguez on the ground and 16 seconds left on the clock.
The Dawgs won the battle of the statistics. Ramona had more totals yards, more passing yards, and more first downs than RB.
Two Bulldogs rushed for over 100 yards. Gansch ran for 131 yards on 21 carries and Cherek rushed for 118 yards on 14 attempts.
The offensive line had another stellar performance. Anthony Moreno, Daniel Kemp, Josh Allen, Patrick Hastings, William Rieve, Trae Rodriguez and Clayton Cook all opened holes in the running game and protected McHargue on passing downs.
McHargue passed for 141 yards going 12 for 23 as he hit six receivers. Binkley led all receivers with six grabs for 57 yards. Gansch, T-Bone Williams, Travis Kerchner and Brandon Fitzpatrick also had catches.
The defense was led by T-Bone Williams and Kerchner. Both had eight tackles. Kerchner also was in on six assists. Tanner Williams had six tackles. Kemp, Zach Berg, Hastings, Dallas Domnitz, Teddy Schenck, Christian Drews, Grady Vasquez, Javier Dominguez, Binkley, Christian Dominguez, Cherek, and Austin Bell also had tackles in the game.
The junior varsity team started Palomar League play with a come from behind victory over Rancho Bernardo. The Dawgs scored the winning touchdown with less than one minute left to play on a Ryan Lopez pass to Colton Harris. Colton Jansen also had a touchdown catch and several key receptions throughout the game.
The stingy Dawg defense held the Broncos to just 12 points and the effort was capped off by nose tackle CJ Broussard’s interception late in the game. The margin of victory was supplied by kicker Brandon Duarte’s two PAT conversions. The JVs are now 4-1-1 and in first place in the Palomar League.
This week it is a short drive down the hill to defending CIF champion Poway. The varsity kickoff is at 7 p.m. on Friday.