Junior running back Jalen Webb rushed for a pair of touchdowns and Fallbrook High turned two blocked punts into 14 points as the Warriors defeated Hoover High 28-9 in San Diego Sept. 29 for their first victory of the 2017 football season.
Fallbrook’s first-year head coach Darius Pickett acknowledged it felt good to get a victory – the Warriors entered the game 0-4 – but also admitted the win was far from a work of art.
“It was an ugly win,” said Pickett. “Of course I’m happy we won, but I just expect us to play a lot better.”
Pickett was mainly referring to the offense, which has been stymied by penalties and turnovers. An example: Fallbrook was flagged four times on its second offensive possession of the game, and the Warriors twice fumbled the ball away inside Hoover’s 10-yard line.
“We’re able to move the ball but then we either get penalties or fumble the ball or we can’t finish a drive,” said Pickett. “So, it’s frustrating to see.”
Webb, with help from the boys up front, provided the offensive highlights for Fallbrook. Sprung by a key block, Webb raced 39 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter and then added a 19-yard touchdown scamper in the fourth quarter. Webb also had a 55-yard run in the second quarter.
“He’s been running real hard and it was good to see him finally get one in (the end zone),” said Pickett of Webb, who also had some big runs against San Pasqual Sept. 22. “The last couple games the O-line (offensive line) has been blocking well for him, opening some big holes, so that’s good to see.”
Fallbrook’s Ethan Martin experienced the highs and lows of football in a short sequence in the second quarter. After making a nice run to the Hoover 9-yard line, Martin coughed up the ball, which was recovered by the Cardinals.
The Fallbrook defense held Hoover on three consecutive plays, forcing the Cardinals to punt out of their end zone. Martin charged hard and blocked the punt, which fell into the arms of teammate Stazi Tomacelli for a Fallbrook touchdown that cut Hoover’s lead to 9-7.
Tomacelli also played a role in Fallbrook’s special teams’ other touchdown when he blocked a Hoover punt late in the third quarter. The deflected punt landed in the hands of 5-foot-2 sophomore Christian Bellamy – one of 13 junior varsity players that were elevated to the injury-plagued varsity squad for the Hoover game – who raced 37 yards for a touchdown that gave Fallbrook a 21-9 lead.
Pickett laughed about the smallest guy on the field making one of the biggest plays of the game, saying, “He’s a little quick one.”
Fallbrook’s defense played well, forcing Hoover to turn the ball over on downs after the Cardinals opened the game with a successful onside kick, and holding Hoover to a field goal after it executed a successful fake punt on its second possession. Although the defense gave up a touchdown after an interception allowed Hoover to start its third possession at the Fallbrook 30-yard line, the special teams unit blocked the PAT (point after touchdown) attempt.
“I was happy with our defense and I was extremely happy with our special teams,” said Pickett. “Fourteen points and three blocks, that’s pretty awesome.”
Fallbrook resumes Valley League play Friday (Oct. 6) when it travels to Escondido and Pickett said he hopes his team can “build on” the victory over Hoover. Game time is 7 p.m.