By Steve Breazeale
One would have to go back three weeks to find the last time the San Clemente football team’s defense allowed a touchdown. The Tritons’ defensive players are in lock-step, and have kept the door shut on opposing teams trying to find the end zone.
They continued that trend on the road against Tesoro in a dominating 41-3 South Coast League victory on Oct. 14.
The Tritons (5-2, 1-0 league) were all over the Tesoro (4-4, 0-2) aerial attack on Friday night, and recorded four interceptions in the first half. Three of those interceptions came in the first quarter, and San Clemente turned them into 17 points.
San Clemente has not allowed a touchdown in its last 10 quarters of play.
After San Clemente quarterback Jack Sears staked his team to a 7-0 lead on a blistering 67-yard touchdown run, junior safety Jack Shippy intercepted Tesoro starter Chase Petersen and returned it 75 yards the other way for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead. Shippy, a transfer from JSerra who was playing in his first game for the Tritons, had two takeaways on the night.
Senior Austin Moore deflected a Petersen pass on the Titans next drive, and it fell into the hands of junior linebacker Riley Croft for the interception. That set up a Triton scoring drive, which ended with a 38-yard touchdown run by Brandon Reaves.
Senior cornerback Branden Wilson intercepted Petersen less than one minute later and the Tritons capitalized when Tristan Trager kicked home his first of two 20-yard field goals on the night.
“I liked the way we played defense, we swarmed the ball really well and got those four turnovers in the first half,” San Clemente head coach Jaime Ortiz said. “It’s a brand new defense I put in this year … They’ve really picked that up and kind of made a statement.”
With the defense not allowing anything, Sears kept the offense humming. The Duke commit completed 16 of 25 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 98 yards on seven carries.
Sears’ favorite target was receiver Keith Jones, who reeled in 11 catches for 120 yards and a touchdown. The two connected for five passes and 68 yards on a scoring drive that ended with Jones corralling a tipped pass as he walked into the end zone to make it 31-0.
Reaves broke off a 50-yard touchdown run to start the second half and put the game firmly out of reach.
The win was a big one for San Clemente, who will host San Juan Hills next week.