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Warriors too strong for Marauders in upset

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Fallbrook running back Jake Ware

After their 10-0 lead disappeared Friday night at Mira Mesa, Fallbrook found themselves behind just after halftime. But that wasn’t the first time this season the Warriors have faced a challenge.

“This is a team that has battled adversity all year,” Fallbrook senior Jake Ware said. “When they took the lead on us, it was really nothing. We believed in ourselves and we knew we could do it.”

The No. 10 seed Fallbrook retook the lead late in the third quarter and hung on to upset the No. 7 seed Marauders 17-13. The Warriors were the only lower seed in Division I to win in the first round.

“This is a pretty resilient group,” said Fallbrook head coach Joe Silvey. “In some cases, they’re had to be resilient because it’s been forced on them but it’s taught them some lessons.”

Fallbrook started the season adjusting to a new coach and system, and limped to an 0-3 start with a rash of injuries. But the Warriors put it all together Friday night for the upset victory.

“Fallbrook played their ass off – give them credit,” said Mira Mesa head coach Gary Blevins.

Fallbrook struck first five minutes into the first quarter with a Brady Harrington 27-yard field goal. The Warriors extended their lead to 10 when Ware scored on a three-yard touchdown run with 9:15 to play in the half.

Mira Mesa got on the board before halftime when quarterback Kevin Ozier hit receiver Brandon Chambers just inside the pylon for a 36-yard touchdown with 1:59 to go. Ozier finished the game 13-of-24 for 192 yards and two touchdowns.

After halftime, it took Mira Mesa only four plays to take the lead. The Marauders’ 68-yard scoring drive gave them a 13-10 lead and was capped when Chambers outleaped defenders for a 19-yard touchdown catch. Chambers finished the night with eight receptions for 126 yards.

Down by three, Fallbrook got a huge fourth down stop with 3:38 left in the third quarter. On fourth and two from Falbrook’s 47-yard line, Mira Mesa running back Damian Williams took a toss outside but was stuffed when he tried to turn upfield.

Less than a minute later the Warriors took a 17-13 with a Ware two-yard touchdown run. The senior two-way starter finished with 126 yards on 30 carries – not bad for someone who exclusively played linebacker to start the season.

“He’s just an unbelievable kid. He plays every snap on defense and he plays as much as we let him, basically,” Silvey said. “He’s a terrific kid and through and through a Fallbrook kid.”

From that point, Fallbrook’s defense held off Mira Mesa (6-5) to preserve the upset victory. After turning the ball over on downs twice in the final quarter, the Marauders lost the ball on a failed hook and ladder at midfield with 2.8 seconds left.

“We’re a very talented football team and we’ve kind of been up and down. I don’t think it should have ended tonight for us,” Blevins said. “We made too many mistakes.”

The No. 10 seed Warriors (5-6) face No. 2 Escondido (8-2) in the Division I quarterfinals next Friday. Earlier this season, the Warriors lost to the Cougars 49-30 at Escondido.

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