The Nipomo High football team chose a great time to win its first home game of the year.
During the Titans’ senior night, and in likely its final game of the season, Nipomo used two rushing touchdowns to defeat the Templeton Eagles 12-0 on a rainy Friday night, marking the program’s first home win in almost two years.
“We’ve had opportunities throughout the year. There were some close games where we could have potentially pulled off some other wins, but it’s really nice for our seniors to go out with a win tonight,” Nipomo coach Russ Edwards said. “They can go out real proud, hopefully we can get an at-large (playoff) berth, but if we don’t we’re third place in league. They can be real proud of themselves, ending with a 12-0 shutout.”
That shutout proved to be a costly season-ending loss for first-year coach Dan Loney and the Eagles. But despite being in a three-way tie with Santa Ynez and Nipomo to end the season, Templeton clinches the third playoff spot out of the Los Padres League, because of a preseason drawing.
It’s hardly the way Loney expected his first postseason ticket to come.
“I guess it’s nice,” Loney said. “It’s good that we made it, we just need to learn how to put together strings of wins. We haven’t done that all year.
“You always learn something from every game, so we’re going to sit down and evaluate it.”
For Nipomo, the win marks a remarkable turnaround after last year’s winless season. The Titans finish the year 4-6 (3-3 Los Padres), grabbing their first home win since defeating Templeton 23-8 on Nov. 13, 2009.
They got by the Eagles (5-5, 3-3 LPL) on Friday by using a stout effort up front to stop Templeton’s rushing attack. They held the Eagles to 113 yard on the ground, giving up a team-high 63 yards to Justin Alvarez.
“We just listened to our coach,” Nipomo linebacker J.T. Wells said. “He made an excellent game plan and we just executed. We wanted to stop the run.”
That defensive effort didn’t stop there as the Eagles couldn’t find any luck through the air either. Against the Titans’ secondary, quarterback Alex Elterman went 0-for-10 passing, having a few wide-open passes slip through receivers’ hands downfield.
It paved the way for the Titans’ offense to churn out the clock on the ground. After a 21-yard touchdown from Nipomo running back Justin Springer in the first quarter, the Titans held onto the ball for the majority of the half and took a 6-0 lead into the break.
The Eagles tried a surprise onside kick to start the third, but the ball found its way into Nipomo’s hands. The Titans then let Wells do the damage on the ground. They ran numerous direct snaps to the senior, and he eventually ripped off a 10-yard touchdown run through three broken tackles for a 12-0 Nipomo lead after a failed conversion run.
From there, the Titans ran out the clock on the ground en route to the win.
Wells, in his final regular-season game, finished with a team-high 81 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown. Springer added 75 yards on 20 carries.
“It feels great,” Nipomo quarterback Chris Souza said. “Our offensive line stepped up and did what they needed to do, helped us win this.
“The winless season was bad, but coming out of that I think this team was more motivated than any team I’ve been on before. We have so much heart. This one, we knew we had to have.”