MALIBU — Down to only 15 players, the Flintridge Prep football team had a small margin for error entering Saturday afternoon's game against host Malibu.
And when the Rebels lost their starting quarterback and their backup, who primarily leads the way at running back, before reaching halftime, it proved too much to overcome in a 49-0 nonleague loss.
Prep (1-4) dropped its fourth consecutive game after forfeiting the previous contest due to a string of injuries from a 48-0 loss to visiting Grace Brethren on Sept. 16.
On Saturday, the Rebels lost starting junior quarterback Clayton Weirick with 5:58 to play in the first quarter and his backup, sophomore Stefan Smith, with 6:19 left in the half.
Together, the tandem combined to give Prep its best opportunity to score.
It came on the opening drive of the game, when the Rebels used six plays to march down from their own 20 to the Malibu three-yard line. Smith ran on five plays and he also caught a 38-yard pass from Weirick.
With a fourth-and-three situation from the opposing three-yard-line, Weirick threw an interception into the end zone that turned the ball over to the Sharks (3-2).
Three plays later on the ensuing drive, Weirick came down with an injury. He did not return.
Trailing 21-0 midway through the second quarter, Smith's legs were taken out from underneath him on a seven-yard run.
Smith hobbled off the field and did not return.
Rebels Coach Antonio Harrison said Smith hurt his right knee on the play and he believes Weirick sprained his left ankle. Both will be evaluated.
"I'm real proud of my boys," Harrison said. "Every week we're put in a [crummy] situation and they come out and keep fighting and I hope that somebody's taking a look at this and recognizing we have to do something big on a bigger level than just getting our boys rehabbed.
"It's about getting the numbers out here and the bodies."
Smith led the team in rushing yards with 73 on 10 carries, all in the first half. Lucas Kim was second, with 36 rushing yards on 15 carries.
Malibu went up, 7-0, five plays after recovering the interception from Weirick.
The Sharks added two more touchdowns after recovering a pair of Prep fumbles. (Neither fumble directly led to the TDs.)
At halftime, Malibu led 28-0. It opened the third by returning the kickoff for an 87-yard touchdown. After another score that quarter, a running clock went into effect once the fourth began.
On the last drive of the game, Prep advanced into Malibu territory on a 27-yard run by sophomore running back Kyle Hamane with about 26 seconds to play.
But that turned out to be the last play of the game.
"To be quite honest, I'm pretty pissed off that the refs decided they were going to hold the ball to let the clock run out because the game was out of reach. I teach my boys to play 'til the very last play, the very last whistle," Harrison said.
"My boys fought hard. I saw a lot of guys step up and play in positions they were never supposed to play and they kept going."
The Rebels are scheduled to host Webb on Friday.