Fallbrook 56, Escondido 14
For a third time this season, the Fallbrook Warriors (4-2, 1-0) put together more than 50 points of offense as the rising North County program defeated the still-struggling Escondido Cougars (0-6, 0-1) 56-14 Friday night.
As if he had managed the game with the help of a clairvoyant, Fallbrook Coach Kyle Williams saw what he had hoped for in the week leading to the game, when he called for an emphasis on defending Escondido’s running back/receiver Josh Navarro and tying up Escondido’s defensive line enough to allow Fallbrook backs to find some holes and run a long way. Fallbrook halfback Roberto Ramirez made good on that vision in the first quarter, when he broke loose on the first Fallbrook drive following a missed field goal opportunity for Escondido. Ramirez went 80 yards for the score that time, but he wouldn’t be finished, and Fallbrook’s scoring wouldn’t turn out in the end to be all that one-dimensional.
Ramirez again broke free in the second quarter quarter to set up Fallbrook’s third score, taking a handoff from Warriors quarterback Landon Benner 72 yards up the perimeter, setting up a 1-yard rushing touchdown from Bryce Olivo a few plays later for the 21-0 lead.
More than the long run itself — Ramirez has done that several times this season — it was how Ramirez made the 72-yard run happen that made for the surprise. Just a few yards into it, Ramirez all but stopped in his tracks, surrounded by Cougars near the sideline. As though the Escondido defense assumed he would get nowhere, Ramirez turned toward the sideline and turned on the speed. Escondido’s defense couldn’t reach him until he was deep into Cougar territory.
Fallbrook hardly wasted scoring opportunities, but the Warriors also forced a few from where there hadn’t seemingly been any.
After Fallbrook expanded its lead to 28-0 on a 13-yard pass from Benner to Ramirez later in the second quarter, the Warriors returned to offense hardly missing a beat after linebacker Alex McCarty intercepted a pass attempt from Escondido quarterback JD Fox at Escondido’s 25 yard line. Within a couple of plays, running back James Nicholas gave Fallbrook a 35-0 lead on an 18-yard rushing score. Fallbrook’s defense again aided the Warriors offense shortly thereafter, when Oscar Ruvalcaba took an interception of his own from Fox near midfield.
Ramirez helped the Warriors capitalize, but not in his usual fashion. On the halfback option, Ramirez took a pitch from Benner behind the line of scrimmage, then surprised the crowd with a 52-yard touchdown pass to Andy Iniesta. The Warriors were up 42-0.
Earlier in the week, the Cougars had anticipated a good shot at taking the game against Fallbrook, noting the return of starting quarterback Fox to the active roster. But Fox, who’s known to be a mobile quarterback who can have success with his own runs, wasn’t able to produce any points either by air or by leg until the third quarter for the Cougars. Escondido’s first score Friday came on a 68-yard run from Fox, but by then, the game’s ending was practically already written.
Judging by the outcome, Fallbrook Coach Kyle Williams seemed to have an early hand in writing the chapters.
“They play a lot of guys close to the line of scrimmage, so we’re hoping that, like the teams in the past that we’ve played this year who play a lot of guys close … we just need to break one tackle or get out into open space, and then we’ve got our long runs again,” Williams said three days before the game.
The Warriors travel to Valley Center (3-3,1-0) for another Valley League match-up next Friday. The Cougars will play at Rancho Bernardo (4-2) in non-league play.