Fallbrook 27, San Pasqual 19
Down by 10 points at the start of the fourth quarter, the Fallbrook Warriors (6-2, 3-0 Valley League) scooped up a fumble and turned it into a march toward victory as the Warriors defeated the San Pasqual Golden Eagles (1-7, 1-2) by a score of 27-19 in Fallbrook.
After appearing to have control of the game through three quarters, the Golden Eagles stumbled, fumbled and fell victim to a Fallbrook interception in the game’s closing minute to relinquish what had seemed to be a chance at their second consecutive win. The play that would serve as the game’s momentum shifter came early in the fourth quarter, when San Pasqual running back Curran McCoy ran into a wall of Warriors linemen on a run attempt up the middle.
Amid the crowd of defenders, McCoy failed to keep the ball secure. Fallbrook lineman Collin Dowling scooped up opportunity — and the ball –recovering McCoy’s fumble and charging 30 yards toward the goal line for the defensive score.
The Warriors still trailed San Pasqual 14-19 after that, but a defensive stop of the Golden Eagles on the next San Pasqual possession set the Warriors up for the comeback. Junior running back Bryce Olivo sealed the victory with a 3-yard touchdown in Fallbrook’s ensuing drive, giving the Warriors the lead for the first time since early in the first quarter.
“It’s really our coach,” Dowling said of Fallbrook Coach Kyle Williams after the game. “He’s gotten us everywhere in this season. We couldn’t have done it without him. My teammates — they’re amazing.
Surrounded by those teammates after the game, and hearing responses to those kind words such as, “We love you, Collin,” and, “New champs,” Dowling downplayed his own role in the victory. But his pick-up of the fumble that brought the Warriors within one touchdown of re-claiming a lead they hadn’t held since Roberto Ramirez’ 2-yard touchdown on Fallbrook’s second drive in the first quarter was nothing short of a turning of fortunes.
“I didn’t do much, ” Dowling said. “The ball bounced into my hands — I scored a touchdown. But it just gave us momentum to score.”
It was momentum the Warriors needed after falling behind by as much as 12 points, the last two of which came late on an early fourth-quarter safety for San Pasqual with the Warriors backed up at their goal line. San Pasqual’s earlier scores came on a 26-yard Chad Nelson touchdown run, which tied the game at 7; another 2-yard touchdown from Nelson, giving San Pasqual the 14-7 lead; and a 35-yard field goal from kicker Allen Valdovinos.
The win was Fallbrook’s first over over the Golden Eagles since 2009, and marked the first time since 2003 that the Warriors could celebrate a winning season, and at least a share of their league’s title.
Fresh off their first win of the season in Week 8 against Valley League opponent Orange Glen, the San Pasqual Golden Eagles found themselves at the start of Friday no more out of contention for the Valley League title than the Valley Center Jaguars, also 1-1 in Valley League play at Friday’s start. The best finish now possible for San Pasqual is a second-place tie, as the Golden Eagles have just one Valley League game remaining against Escondido (1-7, 1-1) in Week 11.
The Golden Eagles will face undefeated non-league opponent San Marcos in week 10 on Halloween night. Valley Center faced non-league opponent Rancho Buena Vista on Friday, and will finish the season with two league games, against Escondido and Orange Glen. Fallbrook has just one Valley League game remaining — next week’s match-up versus the Orange Glen Patriots, who after starting the season 6-0 in non-league play haven’t won yet against a Valley League rival in two tries.