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Saints beat Lancers for first time in school history

St. Augustine head coach Richard Sanchez could not have dreamed of a better debut. In his first game as Saints coach Thursday night, St. Augustine knocked off Carlsbad 15-14 at Mater Dei High School – the school’s first win over the Lancers in six meetings.

“I didn’t know that,” Saints junior quarterback Evan Crower said about the win. “The last three years it was always a close game but they came out on top. We just came out and stepped it up.”

With 2:54 left, Crower rolled out and found senior receiver Sam Macias in the front of the end zone from five yards out to put St. Augustine ahead by one. Macias, who got the start only because Dana Barbaro was out with a separated shoulder, made plays throughout the game.

“It was a shallow out, but the guy was right there, so I kind of bubbled out to help my quarterback out,” Macias said. He saw me and I just scored.”

After a failed two-point conversion, Carlsbad started the ensuing drive on their own eight-yard line. A 35-yard run from senior Michael Taele got the Lancers to midfield and two plays later a halfback pass from Taele to receiver Patrick Beall gave Carlsbad first down on the St. Augustine 18-yard line with just under two minutes left.

“He’s the real deal,” Carlsbad head coach Bob McAllister said of Taele. “He had a very good game tonight – take away the fumble – he played very very well.”

Three plays after the halfback pass, Carlsbad set up to kick a game-winning 28-yard field goal and it looked as if the Lancers would escape with victory. But the snap was too tall for holder Jason DeHay and rolled back to the 33-yard line where Saints senior Chris Guarin corralled it from a pack of players. From there, St. Augustine was able to run out the clock.

“The defense stepped up. It was on the defense, it wasn’t on the offense,” Crower said. “The defense did all the work.”

The Saints defense kept Carlsbad off the board in the second half, erasing a 14-6 halftime deficit. The Lancers opened the game’s scoring with a first-quarter touchdown run from Taele and extended a 7-6 lead just before the half on a 32-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Blake Vandenkolk to Freenman that hit the hands of a St. Augustine before Freeman snatched it in the end zone.

Both teams came into their opener looking to run the ball. Behind Taele's 218 yards on 24 carries, Carlsbad was able to establish a strong ground game to take the pressure off Vandenkolk, who was making his first start.

“It’s his first start and you’ve got to rely on guys with a lot of experience,” McAllister said. “We felt we could run the ball tonight and we ran the ball well enough tonight to win the football game. But we have to put the ball in the end zone.”

Macias said St. Augustine’s ground game was part of their new offensive scheme of a balanced attack. But Carlsbad bottled up Saints back De’Andre Crowder. As their offense struggled, Saints junior kicker Paul Hundley connected on three field goals, including a 40-yard effort in the third quarter.

“We’re young and we have a lot of older guys playing new positions for us,” Sanchez said. “There’s new schemes and a new way of doing things for the Saints but it’s a great stepping stone for years to come.”

Not a bad stepping stone at all.

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St. Augustine quarterback Evan Crower rolls out of the pocket

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