Lompoc High’s football team came into Friday’s game in Templeton riding a 25-game winning streak, having last lost a game to the Eagles in 2010.
But even with star Braves running back Lavon Coleman out with a thigh injury, Templeton’s hopes to break Lompoc’s stretch of dominance came up well short.
Lompoc (6-0, 2-0) won 42-3 behind a pounding running attack led by Nikko Hayes, who ran for 90 yards, and Taylor Cornejo, who darted for 54, and a shut down defense.
“Their linemen are just massive,” Templeton’s Jackson Wheeler said watching the action from the sideline late in the second half. “Look at them, they’re huge.”
Perhaps the one who stood out the most was defensive lineman Ainuu Taua, who stands 6 feet tall and weighs 280 pounds.
He was a road block on the field in the middle of several running play tackles, highly visible with his wavy long, curly hair reminiscent of NFL player Troy Polamalu.
Noting that Templeton (5-2, 2-1) was the last team to beat the Braves in 2010 and that an Eagles player said Templeton could win to a media outlet before Friday’s game, Taua said Lompoc came “hungry” to the game.
“They ticked us off by saying that,” Taua said after the game. “They called us out and that was disrespectful.”
The result was a pounding that led to Templeton only gaining 33 yards on offense before the Eagles started getting some flow with quick passes from quarterback Alex Elterman to Toby Isbell and Andy Garretson in a fourth quarter drive for first-down gains.
Connor Truhitte also had a 48-yard run late in the game that he nearly broke off for a touchdown before behind tracked down by a Braves defender.
“I was able to get around the end,” Truhitte said. “We were trying to do that earlier in the game, but it just wasn’t there.”
Elterman erased the shutout with a 25-yard field goal with 2:19 remaining in the game.
But it was too much of everything from Lompoc and some bad breaks in the first half didn’t help.
On a field goal attempt on a fourth down in the first quarter, Lompoc fumbled the snap but turned a broken play into a 16-yard scrambling first-down pass by kicker Jose Morales to Nikko Hayes.
Then a sack by Truhitte at midfield in the first half appeared to cause a fumble that Templeton might have run into the end zone, but quarterback Tyler Ornelas was ruled down on the play.
Templeton followed with a second consecutive sack shared by Hunter Kenton, Juan Serrano and Justin Alvarez.
But even after the stops Templeton was able to get in the first half, the Eagles’ no-huddle offense didn’t give their teammates much of a rest.
Lompoc receiver Gregory Mitchell burned the Eagles for two long touchdowns, one of 38 yards off a flea-flicker pass from Rafael Arellano with 14 seconds left in the second quarter.
In the third quarter, Mitchell tore away for a 63-yard touchdown sprint after catching the ball on a midfield slant.
“They’re a very good team,” Templeton coach Dan Loney said. “They execute well. They play with a chip on their shoulder. They’re out to prove what they can do.”
Loney had a long talk with his team after the game, encouraging his players to work hard the rest of the way.
“I told the team after the game that everyone’s going to have to sacrifice,” Loney said. “We have just three games left and for our seniors, those are the last three they’ll have. We have to come together and just give it all we have.”