The Nipomo High School football team didn’t want to settle for a share of a Northern League title again.
With their backs against the wall Friday night against Santa Maria, the Titans took care of business, shutting out the Saints in the second half and scoring the go-ahead touchdown with less than four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter in a 19-14 victory.
The title is the school’s first outright football championship in school history. Nipomo tied Morro Bay for the 2014 Northern League title and was runner-up last year to Mission Prep.
This year, the Titans controlled their own destiny. If they had lost to Santa Maria, they would have once again shared the title with another school.
Thanks to Isaac Bausley’s huge night and stout defense, the Titans will enter the CIF-Southern Section playoffs with a four-game winning streak and a league title.
“Unbelievable feeling, I’d say,” Nipomo coach Tony Dodge said. “The feelings of being a champion and making school history, it’s special. It’s very special, and I wouldn’t of had it any other way. To have a battle and a war with Santa Maria.”
Bausley once again stepped up as the feature running back, in addition to his linebacker duties, as Michael Jordan was sidelined for the game. Bausley had 25 carries for 277 yards, two touchdowns and had another 39-yard score called back due to holding. His night was especially important, as Nipomo struggled to throw the ball down the field.
“It’s exciting,” Bausley said. “We were working hard, so the relief off our chests... We’re league champs, and it feels great.”
The defense did its part as well, stopping the Saints on crucial third downs in the second-half shutout — including the crucial stop to preserve what would be the winning touchdown. Santa Maria got the ball back with less than four minutes remaining and needed a touchdown to take the lead. Nipomo held at its own 36-yard line, and Santa Maria turned the ball over on downs.
“We played like champions, hung tough in the end and came out on top,” Dodge said.
The Titans (6-4, 4-0) will find out their playoff opponent Sunday and may play on the road, despite winning their division.