By Bill Tamburrino
When attending a Ramona High School Bulldog football game, fans should expect the unexpected and never leave the game early. Just when they think the game is decided, they are probably wrong.
Against Grossmont at home on Aug. 31, the Bulldogs had a 24-7 lead and appeared to be cruising to a victory, but lost 28-24.
This week at Morse High School it looked extremely bleak at halftime as Ramona trailed 12-0, but the Bulldogs then used all three aspects of their game—offense, defense and special teams—to come from behind and beat the Tigers 13-12.
When asked what adjustments the defense made at intermission, Coach Jason Matthews had a brief answer: “None.”
When pressed, he responded, “We were playing well on defense in the first half. Morse scored on a fumble and their second TD was set up by a fumble. We were swarming to the ball and we were containing their running game. We continued to do the same in the second half.”
“Playing well” was an understatement as the Dawg D held a very quick, shifty and fast Morse team to 129 yards total offense.
T-Bone Williams led the defense with nine tackles and a tackle for a loss. For his efforts he was named the Defensive Player of the Game.
Daniel Kemp and Travis Kerchner both registered four tackles apiece in the game and Kerchner had four assists. Kemp had a sack. Tanner Williams recovered his second fumble in two games
Sometimes a single play can turn around a team and change the momentum, and give life and confidence to a team. Senior all purpose football player, Javier Dominguez, made that play against Morse.
Trailing 12-0 in the third quarter, the Ramona defense held Morse and forced a punt. Dominguez, who plays cornerback on defense and running back and wide receiver on offense, stayed on the field and went back to receive the punt. He was fighting cramps at the time so he decided to take on the Tiger punt team too.
“I was starting to cramp up but I knew that if I could make the first guy miss that I could get off a good return. I had a feeling that if I got in the open that I could take it to the house.”
Dominguez made a move on the first Tiger downfield and the defender missed to the left of Dominguez on the 19-yard line. Dominguez then went right and picked up a key block from Austin Bell and then he found a wall of Bulldog blockers and out ran the entire Morse team for an 81-yard touchdown. Dominguez also did well on kickoff returns and made a big tackle on the kickoff team. He was the Special Teams Player of the Game.
From then on the momentum changed and the defense set the tone for the game.
Two turnovers by the Bulldog offense marred an otherwise impressive performance. A Bulldog fumble was returned for a 67-yard Tiger touchdown. The other fumble led to Morse’s second touchdown.
Brandon Gansch had his second 100-yard-plus rushing game. The Bulldog workhorse rushed 30 times for 107 yards. Dominguez (2/5 yards), Austin Bell (2/2 yards), Chad Miller Laduke (1/7 yards) and T-Bone Williams (4/16 yards) all rushed for positive yardage.
Hunter McHargue completed nine of 15 passes for 86 yards and a touchdown. McHargue connected with six receivers: Brandon Kelderman (1), Christian Drews (2), Gansch (1), Matt Lawler (1), Brandon Fitzpatrick (2) and Tanner Triplett (2). Drews made a big first down catch to keep the scoring drive alive and caught an 11-yard TD pass for the winning points. He also had an excellent night blocking and was named the Offensive Player of the Game.
Fitzpatrick had a busy week at practice as he was assigned the job of being the quarterback on the scout teams. He did such a good job that he was named the Scout teams’ Player of the Week. Daniel VanTol played with a heavily taped broken finger and registered two tackles with one for a loss, got a hit on the quarterback, and registered a sack to earn Lineman of the Week honors.
“The key to beating Morse was big plays,” stated Coach Damon Baldwin. “Matt Lawler made a HUGE catch by the goal line to put us in a position to score. Tanner Williams made another big fumble recovery. Hunter’s TD pass to Drew was great throw and catch. Our defense made big plays all night and held Morse to 129 yards total offense. Travis Kerchner flew around the field all night making big plays. Javier’s punt return was HUGE.
“We made big plays as a team and as individuals. When an individual makes a big play it motivates the entire team. That is what happened at Morse. Morse is a historically powerful program that John Shacklett built. Beating them is an accomplishment.”
It was a successful week for the Bulldog football program. The freshman team remained undefeated with a 20-19 win. The junior varsity picked up their first win by beating the Tigers 21-13.
Ramona will travel to Carlsbad on Friday to take on the Lancers who are 1-1 and are coming off of a 40-6 victory over San Diego High School. San Diego High School is coached by RHS alum Doug Packwood. Former three-sport standout and North County Athlete of the Year Tony Sotelo is on Packwood’s staff and is the track coach at San Diego.
Kickoff at Carlsbad is at 7 p.m. The JVs tee it up at 4:30 p.m.