By Bill Tamburrino
Ramona High School Bulldogs set the pace and were in control of the game for three quarters-plus as they led 24-7, but a frantic come-from-behind effort by Grossmont High School handed the Bulldogs a loss in their football season opener Friday evening.
The Bulldogs got on the scoreboard first by scoring on the first play of the second period. Brandon Gansch followed the blocking of his offensive line and went 8 yards for the score. Tyler Vargas added the extra point and the Dawgs led 7-0.
Gansch would go on to lead all rushers with 146 yards on 26 carries and earn Offensive Player of the Game honors. The Bulldog defense limited Grossmont to 31 yards on the ground.
The Grossmont Foothillers tied the game on their next possession. Ramona then drove 91 yards and Vargas hit a 22-yard field goal in the final seconds of the half. The audience was in limbo all night as the scoreboard and clock was not functioning.
Ramona scored in the third quarter when Tyler McHargue hit Gansch with a 12-yard touchdown pass. Vargas made the PAT and the Dawgs led 17-7.
Ramona appeared to put the game away early in the fourth period when Tanner Williams recovered a Foothiller fumble and raced 37 yards for a touchdown. Vargas again converted the Pat and the Dawgs led 24-7. Williams was the Special Teams Player of the Game.
Grossmont then took over the momentum. The Foothiller defense shut down the Bulldog offense and Grossmont quarterback Anthony Lawrence got hot. Lawrence hit on several long bombs and scrambled when the Bulldog secondary covered his receivers.
Lawrence finished the night with 13 completions for 260 yards and two touchdowns. Most of his yardage came in the fourth quarter. He had completions of 57, 43, 40 16 and 23 yards in the final period.
McHargue completed 10 of 17 attempts for 145 yards. He threw two interceptions. He connected with eight different receivers. Brandon Kelderman and Matt Lawler had two receptions each. Gansch, Christian Drews, T-Bone Williams, Nathan Cherek, Brandon Fitzpatrick, and Tanner Triplett had one reception each.
Daniel Kemp had two sacks and was the Defensive Player of the Game. Zach Berg and Tanner Williams each recovered a fumble.
The loss was disappointing because the Bulldogs had a balanced offense and played well on defense until the final minutes. Ramona scored on offense in the air and on the ground. The Dawgs also scored on special teams and on defense.
“We played a solid first game for three quarters,” said Coach Damon Baldwin. “All but 10 players on the roster were playing in their first varsity game. Grossmont has a veteran team and is a good football team. When you evaluate the game, leading 24-7 with nine minutes to go and to lose is hard to swallow. It was a very emotional loss but it was not for a lack of effort.
The team played hard. We need to learn to play four quarters and FINISH games.”
Ramona wore down and Grossmont made some big plays, said Baldwin.
“Not having a scoreboard was a huge disadvantage for us,” he said. “We needed to see the clock in order to slow down the Grossmont offense and run time off of the clock. I guess you could say that the home field advantage worked against us.”
The Bulldogs were physical on offense and defense, noted Baldwin.
“Our five new starters on the offensive line and the two backups that went in (Anthony Moreno, Daniel Kemp, Josh Allen, Patrick Hastings, William Rieve, Trae Rodgiguez, and Howard Peel) played very well,” said Baldwin.
Allen was the Offensive Lineman of the Game.
Baldwin also had praise for Scott Valente, who was the Scout Teams Player of the Week.
The Dawgs go on the road for two weeks. They will travel to Morse first. The frosh play on Thursday at 5 p.m., the junior varsity on Friday at 4:30, and the varsity at 7 on Friday.