By Adam Herzog
Down 14-0 at halftime, Trabuco Hills rallied to score three unanswered touchdowns to stun San Clemente 21-14 in a South Coast League matchup on November 2.
The first half was all Tritons (5-5, 1-3 league), as sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold showed off his versatility by running for 100 yards and throwing for a touchdown to help San Clemente jump out to an early 14-0 lead.
“Sam is only a sophomore, but he is going to be special. He reminds me a lot of our quarterback last year, Travis Wilson.” San Clemente head coach Jaime Ortiz said.
However, the Tritons could not keep the momentum going in the second half, as they were plagued by some costly penalties and had difficulty stopping the Trabuco Hills running game.
The Mustangs had 137 rushing yards and controlled the clock in the second half. They also scored three touchdowns in the final 24 minutes to edge the Tritons.
The key play of the game was a 20-yard scramble by Trabuco Hills senior quarterback Nathan Perry. After a personal foul penalty sent the Mustangs back to the Tritons 20- yard line on a third and goal, Perry was able to escape the San Clemente defenders and scramble into the end zone to tie the game at 14-14.
The Tritons then drove all the way down into Trabuco Hills territory before fumbling, which was recovered by the Mustangs. Trabuco Hills took advantage of the costly turnover and drove all the way down the field, scoring on a three-yard touchdown by fullback J.T. Land with only 19 seconds remaining.
For the Tritons, the loss ended all hopes of qualifying for a playoff berth.
“We started off really well, but unfortunately, we had some injuries and faced a lot of adversity.” Ortiz said. “It was a tough finish, but we will pay respect to our seniors, and look forward to next season.”