Paso Robles High sophomore quarterback Justin Davis is proving to be a capable replacement for injured junior captain Gunnar Griffin, and the San Luis Obispo High football team’s struggles continue.
The Bearcats (4-1, 2-0 PAC 7) drilled the Tigers (3-3, 0-2 PAC 7) 42-7 Friday night at Holt Field with Davis passing for 154 yards and three touchdowns in his second career start.
Davis completed 7 of 10 passes before giving way to Bailey Gaither under center with a huge lead in the second half, and senior running back Nathaniel Harris ran for 149 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries for Paso Robles.
“Our passing game was good tonight,” said Gaither, who caught four passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns, including a 72-yard score that made it 21-0 midway through the second quarter. “We got coached up. Our sophomore quarterback stepped up, and he played a great game tonight.”
San Luis Obispo, on the other hand, struggled to gain much momentum either offensively or defensively.
Sawyer Scott rallied in the fourth quarter to finish with 126 rushing yards on nine carries and spurred a late scoring drive capped by a 16-yard touchdown pass from Thomas Orradre to Dillon Walter.
But that was not nearly enough to keep the Tigers from losing their third straight after a 3-0 start to the season created some lofty expectations.
Things started off wrong from the very beginning and hardly improved for San Luis Obispo.
On three first-quarter possessions, the Tigers racked up five offensive penalties for 25 yards, setting back a triple-option offense that went 0 for 3 on third-down conversions in the opening quarter.
Since beating Garces, Dos Pueblos and Oxnard to open the year, San Luis Obispo has sandwiched a 16-6 loss to St. Joseph between blowout losses to Morro Bay and Paso Robles.
“Obviously, discipline,” Scott said. “Just discipline in general is something we need to work on.
“We lost our swagger. We need to get that back. We lost our confidence, and we’ll get that back this week. We need to go harder in practice. That’s probably where it stems from, and we need to communicate better.”
Paso Robles broke the first-quarter scoreless tie with a 6-yard touchdown pass from Davis to Gaither.
Perhaps a sign of the felicity and frustration in store for each team, San Luis Obispo defensive back Vanley Bernard closed on the route and dove to bat the ball in front of Gaither.
Unfortunately for Bernard, the ball stayed alive.
“It was kind of funny,” Gaither said. “The guy tipped it, and it just fell in my hands. So, there was a little luck in that.”
Shortly after, Bernard sat injured on the sideline training table, and from then on, Paso Robles pounced.
On back-to-back throws in the second quarter, Davis hit Josh Oliver on a 30-yard deep ball for a touchdown, and Gaither out-leapt San Luis Obispo defensive back Nate Greenelsh on another go route for the 72-yard touchdown.
Before the half, fullback Jimmy Pacheco would punch in a 3-yard touchdown run, Gaither lined up at quarterback to take a keeper 7 yards around the edge for a score with 16.4 seconds left in the second and the rout was on.