What has made the Rancho Buena Vista High football team so unbeatable this season is a dominant rushing attack led by tailback Scott Garcia.
And second-ranked RBV, behind Garcia’s 268 yards and 3 touchdowns, ran over, through and around top-ranked Oceanside, 35-22, in a battle for the top spot in the Avocado League friday night in front of about 6,500 fans at Oceanside High.
While RBV (3-0, 6-0) stayed with its most effective offense--a running attack that has averaged 409 yards per game--Oceanside (2-1, 5-1) pulled just about every surprise it could think of.
Its best player, quarterback Jerry Garrett--whom RBV Coach Craig Bell feared most entering the game--played the first quarter at tailback, with little-used Chad Crites at quarterback. The idea was the get the most of Garrett’s running abilities, but he gained just 2 yards on 4 carries in the first quarter.
That seemed to throw Oceanside off stride for the rest of the game. When Garrett returned to quarterback, he struggled passing, was sacked 9 times and wound up with minus 25 yards rushing on 20 attempts.
“We figured Rancho practiced all week to stop me from quarterback,” Garrett said. “I think we just came in a little overanxious. I don’t think they could beat us again.”
If there is to be another meeting, it will be in the playoffs and very possibly for the San Diego Section 2-A championship. But for Oceanside to beat RBV, it will have to figure out a way to consistently move on offense, something it was unable to do Friday.
Led by Junior Moi and Al Aliipule, RBV’s defense spent most of the night in the Oceanside backfield chasing Garrett out of the pocket. It rarely allowed Garrett a chance to set up and throw or for Oceanside to establish any kind of running game.
“That was not easy,” Bell said. “Anytime there’s a Jerry Garrett and all that talent, it’s not going to be easy. I was worried all the time.”
Oceanside wasted no time getting the expected offensive fireworks under way. Garrett returned the opening kickoff 28 yards to the RBV 45. Three plays later, fullback Butkus Tuitasi ran 54 yards off right tackle for a touchdown. With Garrett’s extra point, Oceanside had ignited the overflow crowd by taking a 7-0 lead less then 2 minutes into the game.
RBV came right back. On its second offensive play, Garcia began his night with an 88-yard run through the heart of the Oceanside defense to the 3. He scored on the next play, but Able Lopez’s extra point was wide right, and Oceanside led, 7-6, with 9:48 left in the first quarter.
That’s when RBV began to dominate.
Crites fumbled on Oceanside’s next play, and RBV’s Matt Lehman recovered on the Oceanside 8. A clipping penalty stalled the drive, and RBV settled for a 30-yard Lopez field goal for a 9-7 lead.
Toward the end of the quarter, RBV drove 79 yards to the 2, but an inspired Oceanside defense led by Sale Isaia and Sibian Fuimaono halted Garcia on 2 attempts, and Oceanside took over.
Oceanside had faced falling farther behind and survived, for the moment. But 4 plays into the second quarter, Garrett fumbled while scrambling, and RBV’s Al Aliipule picked the ball up at the 2 and carried it in for a 16-7 RBV lead.
After another Oceanside drive stalled, O.J. Hall (15 carries, 144 yards) ran through a huge hole created by guard Jack Harrington and raced 51 yards for another touchdown that made it 22-7.
Garrett struggled through the half. After he moved to quarterback to start the second quarter, he missed badly on his first 4 passes. But he then hit receiver Lee Strain in stride at the 12, and Strain completed the 59-yard touchdown play. Garrett added the extra point, and with 7:15 left in the half, Oceanside was within 22-14.
But RBV wasn’t quite through, either. Aided by two penalties that netted 20 yards, RBV drove 50 yards to the touchdown, finishing with Garcia’s 24-yard scoring run on a trap play.