La Jolla Vikings take a pounding at hands of Mission Bay Buccaneers on Senior Night, 48-17
By Ed Piper
With all the music that blares out of the loudspeakers during gaps in action, La Jolla definitely needs a theme song for this football season. “Good Times Bad Times” gets played a lot, in synch with the topsy-turvy nature of the season, three wins versus five losses.
“Ride, Ride, Ride the Wild Surf” would be fitting, in view of 600-yard offensive explosions while also giving up 52 points in a half on defense. With the way quarterback Collin Rugg has filled the air with spiraling footballs to favorite targets Nic Skala and Brandon Bonham, and to a lesser extent Reid Martin and brothers Eric Tims and Da’Jour Tims, the Air Force Academy fight song could be another winner.
Each game might need its own track. “Little Deuce Coupe,” emphasis on “little”, comes to mind for the latest installment. The Vikings made several mistakes on special teams, got further ruffled by some referee calls, and never got their engine purring in sputtering to a 48-17 thrashing by Mission Bay Oct. 25. The Big Engine That Could on previous nights never got to show itself.
It was Senior Night, the last home game of the regular season. Things went from fuzzy warm with the introduction of 18 seniors on the football team and cheer squad before the game, to downright cold and grim on a dark fall night overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Things started to unravel early when the Buccaneers’ Max Pierre ran Carlton O’Neal’s punt back 57 yards for Mission Bay’s first score at 5:47 of the first quarter. The Vikings, after several games kicking and punting out of bounds intentionally to prevent just such runbacks, got brave and special teams gave up the six.
Three straight incompletes from Rugg to Bonham characterized La Jolla’s second possession of the game, forcing the Vikes to punt. Eric Tims reeled off a beautiful 45-yard run on La Jolla’s third possession, leading to a Trenton Fudge field goal of 22 yards to put LJ on the scoreboard.
But then the Bucs’ Andre Petties-Wilson, a thorn in the Vikings’ side the entire night, popped an 86-yard runback of the ensuing kick for Mission Bay to lead 14-3 just before the close of the opening period. Confusion followed in the Vikings’ next possession, two incompletes to Skala and the question on the sideline, “What was the play call?”
Even after La Jolla’s defense forced a three-and-out on Mission Bay’s first possession of the second quarter, the Vikings’ offense fumbled and Pierre recovered and took it in for a 21-3 Mission Bay lead with 9:06 left in the first half. The rout was on.
Two-way back Eric Tims, a senior who had a fabulous game with 91 yards on 12 carries and 28 more yards on three kick returns, opined: “If we start off bad, it’s like we’re digging ourselves into a hole. We have to climb out, but (when the deficit builds) it’s really hard to dig ourselves out.”
“We’re doing good, and then the momentum stops,” observed Tims. “I don’t know why. It just crashes.”
The hosts (now 0-2 in the Western League, with powerhouse Madison on tap next Nov. 1 at Madison) scored their only offensive touchdown on a Rugg-to-Skala 17-yard connection to come back within 21-10 midway through the second quarter. In the final quarter, noseguard Justin Cook sacked Buc quarterback Nicholas Plum, with Demarco Bland running 43 yards with the fumble recovery to finish out La Jolla’s scoring. By then, it was 41-17.
“I’m not going to make excuses,” said La Jolla coach Jason Carter. “They were the more physical team tonight.” He went on: “I think Mission Bay (2-1 in the Western League, 7-1 overall) always intimidates our kids a little, for whatever reason. The first year (of my coaching here, playing poorly against Mission Bay), it’s on us. The second year, it definitely won’t happen. I can guarantee that.”
Eric Tims commented: “We know what we’re doing, but it’s just mistakes—missed tackles…”
* STATS: Offense: Passing – Rugg 17 for 38, 112 yards, no interceptions. Receiving – Skala 7 for 46 yards; O’Neal 5 for 37 yards; Bonham 2 for 27 yards. Rushing: Eric Tims – 12 for 91 yards; Reid Martin 9 for 36 yards; Rugg 4 for 16 yards.
Defense: Tackles – Bland 3, Bret Schuman 2, Connor Hayden 2, Anthony Stanley 2. Tackles for Loss (TFL) yards lost – Bland 1/3, Schuman 1/4.
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