EL CENTRO — Vincent Memorial’s football squad was tripped up Friday, on the first day of fall, by Santana High’s Sultans 50-43 in a football game more closely resembling a Haggler vs. Hearns fight than Varsity gridiron action.
The Scots received the kick off, but gained only two yards on three downs as they set up to punt at their own 40. A fake punt by Vincent resulted in a first down.
Fourteen plays later, still on their opening drive, the Scots attempted a field goal from the Santana four-yard line, but the Sultans blocked the kick and gained possession at the 20-yard line.
Santana landed the first glancing blow in three plays on a 40-yard TD breakaway to make it a 7-0 contest with 3:08 remaining in the first quarter.
As the Scots worked three plays into their second offensive sequence, the Sultans struck again with a pick-six to take an early 14-0 lead to close out the opening period.
In uncharted territory, down two scores for the first time this season, Vincent remained poised as the Scots pieced together a 13-play drive resulting in a six-yard TD counter punch by running back Javier Briseno. After an unsuccessful extra point attempt, the scoreboard read 14-6.
Santana’s offensive unit came onto the field for only the second time of the night midway through the second quarter when Vincent linebacker Baraquiel Fimbres sent them back to the bench on a stripped ball and fumble recovery.
On the ensuing drive, the Scots evened up the contest with an 18-yard pass to Juan Ruiz who drug in three Sultans across the goal line. Briseno added the two-point conversion for the 14-14 split with seven minutes to go before half time.
Vincent’s defense halted Santana’s next possession forcing a turnover on downs at midfield. On second and nine, Valenzuela lead Ruiz to the back of the end zone for a diving touchdown reception. The extra point skipped off the cross bar and passed the uprights for the 21-14 lead with three and change before intermission.
The Sultans’ swords pierced the Scots less than a minute later on a 34-yard scoring sprint by Santana’s running back. Vincent tipped the extra point kick attempt and managed to take a slim 21-20 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
It took four plays on the opening possession of the third quarter for Santana to strike again; the second rushing touchdown by Brooks Moutaw shifted the lead back to the Sultans’ side at 27-21.
The Scots landed another haymaker when Valenzuela juked and dashed down the sideline as he was flushed out of the pocket to score and take back the lead at 29-27 with a successful two-point conversion poke by Valenzuela.
In the last few minutes of the third quarter, Santana surged to score twice more before the end of the period on a pair of rushing TDs by Moutaw to give the Sultans a 43-29 advantage going into the fourth quarter.
The Scots maintained poise on a QB keeper by Valenzuela at the 9:42 mark, a defensive stance, and a back endzone cherry dime knotted up the game once again at 43-all with five minutes left to play.
On the kick off, Vincent put a hat on the ball to force a fumble that was recovered by Valenzuela for prime field possession at the Sultan’s 35-yard line.
Santana’s defensive front line and swarming secondary subdued the Scot’s late push and forced a fourth and four stop at the 29-yard line with 3:23 remaining in regulation.
The Sultans chipped away at the clock as they moved the chains down the field on short gains by Josh Oedewaldt.
With seconds left, Oedewaldt finished off Vincent as he steamrolled into the end zone from one yard out for the 50-43 finisher.
Vincent endured their first defeat of the season and will be on the road against Central Union High at 7 p.m. September 29.