Not this year. Not again.
The Nipomo High football team made sure it would not fall to Mission Prep a second time.
In the rematch of last year’s 14-point loss to the Royals, the Titans rushed for 456 yards in a 41-13 road win over the Royals on Friday night.
“We executed pretty well,” Nipomo coach Russ Edwards said. “Offensively, we challenged our boys after not really showing up up front last week against Santa Ynez. We challenged them to come out and wear this Mission team down and we did.”
The Titans’ offensive line paved the way for five rushing touchdowns and allowed two players to run for more than 140 yards.
One of those players, however, wasn’t starting running back Justin Springer.
On the first play from scrimmage, Springer suffered a neck injury that caused him to lay on the field for close to 20 minutes. He was carted off the field on a stretcher and taken to a local hospital. According to Edwards, he suffered a sprained neck.
Player after player made their way to Springer as he was being carted into the ambulance. Some just gave him a friendly slap on the shoulder pads, while others exchanged words. Quarterback Chris Souza made sure he was one of the last to address his teammate.
“I told him that we are all here for him and I told him I was going to play this game for him,” Souza said. “He is like my brother. I grew up with him and it’s pretty sad to see him go away in an ambulance, but after that I told our team we weren’t going to go away, we were going to keep fighting for him. And that’s what we did.”
The Titans got started early, scoring three times in the first quarter. Kicker Taylor Apetz kicked a 38-yard field goal to put Nipomo up 3-0 on the first drive of the game. Souza then struck paydirt from 15 yards out, and J.T. Wells scored from 32 yards out for a 15-0 lead through one.
In the second quarter, Apetz kicked another field goal, from 26 yards out, and Anthony Perez scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to give Nipomo a commanding 25-0 lead.
Then, in the final seconds of the first half, Mission Prep answered. Quarterback Tyler Baty found wide receiver Joey Hall for a 71-yard touchdown pass up the sideline to cut the deficit to 25-7 at the break.
Mission Prep kept that momentum going in the second half as the Royals scored on the first possession of the third quarter when Baty found Trevor Fernandez for an 18-yard touchdown to make it 25-13 after a missed extra point.
Mission Prep then stripped the ball on the ensuing kickoff and got the ball back in Titans’ territory. The Royals, however, punted the ball away to a Nipomo offense that would score 16 unanswered points en route to the victory.
Souza finished with a game-high 186 yards and three touchdowns, while Wells rushed for 149 yards and one TD.
Baty led Mission Prep with 171 passing yards, completing 12 of 18 passes and two touchdowns. He hit Hall six times for a team-high 128 yards receiving.
While the Royals’ bid of upsetting the Los Padres League Titans for the second consecutive year came up short, the Royals will have another chance against an LPL team next week in Santa Maria.
The Titans will travel to take on Lompoc, looking for the team’s biggest win of the year.
“This is a big win for us,” Edwards said. “Next week we go into the lion’s den at Lompoc. We’re going to go and try to shock the world.”
Cabrillo 41, Morro Bay 23
The Pirates (0-8, 0-4 Los Padres League) fell on the road to the Conquistadors (7-1, 4-0).
Morro Bay committed three turnovers in the first quarter, resulting in 20 Cabrillo points.
Dan Beavers ran for a 1-yard touchdown and threw for a 65-yard score in the loss for the Pirates.
— Tribune staff also contributed to this report.