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Cal Lutheran Rally Falls Short Against Santa Barbara : College football: Kingsmen’s 20-point second half is not enough to overcome 33-3 halftime deficit.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

For 30 minutes Saturday, Cal Lutheran played fundamentally sound football. Unfortunately, that stretch followed a half in which the Kingsmen could do nothing right, and the end result was a 33-23 nonconference loss to UC Santa Barbara.

Four second-quarter turnovers led to four Santa Barbara touchdowns and a 33-3 Gaucho lead at halftime. And although CLU scored 20 points and rolled up 291 yards in total offense in the second half, it proved too little, too late.

“We just had too many mistakes,” said CLU Coach Joe Harper, whose team lost for the third time in as many games. “We had tremendous opportunities in the first half and we just didn’t capitalize.”

Santa Barbara quarterback Jon Barnes took full advantage of the opportunities that CLU provided in the first half, completing 14 of 24 passes for four touchdowns. He also rushed for another score.

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Barnes finished 16 of 29 passing for 199 yards as the Gauchos were limited to just 60 yards total offense after halftime.

Adam Hacker, CLU’s freshman quarterback, struggled in the first half, throwing for just 77 yards. He also threw two interceptions that set up a pair of Santa Barbara touchdowns. But in the second half, he threw for 174 yards, including a 17-yard scoring strike to Tom Leogrande. He also scored on a one-yard plunge.

And although the CLU comeback fell short, the Kingsmen seemed pleased with their turnaround.

“Even though we lost, it was a definite upper,” junior running back Cassidy O’Sullivan said. “The offensive line did 100% better than they did the whole year.”

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Indeed, in 10 quarters preceding the Kingsmen’s 20-point outburst Saturday, CLU had scored only 22 points.

O’Sullivan was a key component of the rejuvenated offense, rushing 27 times for 127 yards.

Trailing, 7-0, after a seven-yard Barnes’ pass to Brian Fleming with 4 minutes 19 seconds left in the first quarter, CLU answered with a 37-yard field goal by Tom Montague early in the second quarter.

Santa Barbara answered with four consecutive touchdowns in the final six minutes of the half. Barnes hit Amahl Thomas for six- and 26-yard scores, then added a 15-yard pass to Fleming.

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Barnes completed the Santa Barbara scoring, a one-yard keeper with 11 seconds left in the half.

Cal Lutheran came back with three second-half touchdowns. O’Sullivan scored from 58 yards with 3:39 left in the third quarter and Hacker’s one-yard run with 8:37 left pulled CLU within 33-17.

CLU’s last gasp came with 53 seconds left when Hacker threw 17 yards to Leogrande. But Hacker’s two-point conversion pass to O’Sullivan fell incomplete. Cal Lutheran’s ensuing onside kick was recovered by Fleming.

Leogrande, a senior, had nine receptions for 111 yards.

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