Dave Rice 12:38 p.m., May 21
Titans take first place in league with decisive win over Wolverines
POWAY – As the first half came to a close on Friday night, it looked as if Poway and Westview would have a close battle for first place in the Palomar League. Then the third-ranked Titans scored six touchdowns in a 10-minute stretch to blow out the 10th-ranked Wolverines 45-14.
“We took a very big step towards the league title, as long as we keep playing hard and doing what we do,” said Poway junior safety Ryan Sharpe.
Poway (6-0-1, 2-0 Palomar) trailed Westview late in the second quarter but struck with a pair of big plays in the final minute of the half. Forty-four seconds after the Titans took the lead on a Gabriel Isaak 20-yard touchdown pass to Dillon McMahon, Sharpe returned a Westview punt 60 yards untouched down the sideline for a score.
“I told the guys before the game that if I got the ball and they made their blocks I would score for them, and that’s exactly what happened,” Sharpe said. “I have to give credit to my blockers. I caught the punt, I saw the whole wall set up and I knew once I made that first cut that it was going to be a good return.”
For the second straight week, Sharpe turned the game in Poway’s favor with a punt return touchdown. Though most of the first half was even, Poway held a 17-7 lead over Westview (5-2, 1-1) headed into halftime.
“That punt return was actually a really huge momentum swing,” Sharpe said. “We were up by three and once I hit that, everyone was going crazy and we had huge momentum going into the half.”
The spark from the punt return carried over after the break for Poway, as the Titans scored on the first play from scrimmage on a Ryan Moreno 44-yard touchdown run. Moreno’s score was the first of four third-quarter Poway touchdowns that turned the game into a rout.
“We knew if we had that momentum it was going to carry over and we were going to take over,” Moreno said. “I just wanted to get the ball in the end zone and that’s what I did.”
On the next drive, Poway defensive back Derek Babiash intercepted an Eric Beagle pass and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown to put the Titans ahead by 24. After Moreno ran for a 22-yard score, Poway’s defense found the end zone again as Titans defensive lineman Tyler Kasl stripped Beagle and returned the ball 24 yards for a touchdown. With three minutes left in the third quarter Poway had opened up a 45-7 lead.
“We were looking at this as the big game because compared to all the other teams we think that this was the toughest,” Moreno said. “We were both tied for first, so we definitely wanted to get on top and that’s what we did.”
With the 31-point victory, Poway now sits alone atop the Palomar League standings. The Titans are 7-0 all-time against Westview, and this victory was fueled by talk from the Wolverines leading up to the game.
“They were saying that they were going to put up 100 points on our team, and that definitely fired us up a little,” Moreno said. “We wanted to shut them up and that really set us off.”
Poway currently owns the best record in Division I and is on track to get the top seed. Since tying San Pasqual, the Titans have beaten their last three opponents by an average of 31 points.
“We’re definitely on top right now, so I think more people are going to come after us,” Moreno said. “We’ve faced good opponents and we’re feeling pretty good about ourselves, and hopefully that will carry over for the rest of the regular season and into the playoffs.”