Carlmont varsity football staves off Santa Clara

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Soleil Dam

The Scots’ offense lines up before a play against the Santa Clara defense.

It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t pretty, but Carlmont left Friday night with a 17-7 victory. Offensive turnovers and opportunistic defenses were undoubtedly the games’ headlines. The two teams combined for nine total giveaways, along with three more turnovers on downs. 

“It was unbelievable,” said Santa Clara Head Coach Andrew Calderon. “Those things determine games. I think we had more [turnovers] than Carlmont and that was what made us lose the game.” 

While the number of turnovers was “unbelievable,” Carlmont did win the turnover battle. The Scots turned it over four times, including three fumbles and the first interception thrown on the year by third-year starting quarterback senior Jack Wiessinger. That interception led to Santa Clara’s only points of the game, which came at the end of the third quarter. In fact, Carlmont turned it over on every one of their first three possessions of the second half. 

On the flip side, Santa Clara turned it over five times, with four fumbles lost and an interception with 38 seconds left by Carlmont’s senior safety Nate Wong to put the game away. It also happened to be the Carlmont defense’s first interception of the year. 

With Wong picking it off in the end zone, it became the third Santa Clara turnover inside of the Scots’ 10-yard line. One came on the opening drive of the game at the Carlmont 8-yard line, and the other came at the Carlmont 3-yard line halfway through the third quarter. Santa Clara struggled all night to take advantage of the great field position handed to them by their defense.

Coming into the game, Santa Clara’s defense had given up an average of over 39 points per game through their first three games this season. The other side of the matchup, Carlmont’s offense, had averaged almost 380 yards and 34 points per game. 

Last week, Santa Clara’s offense put 60 points on Del Mar, while Carlmont’s defense was coming back from Half Moon Bay with 49 points allowed. This game was destined to be a high-scoring affair. However, both defenses dominated.

Another big storyline coming into the game was the size of the Santa Clara offensive and defensive lines. Anchored by the University of Southern California commit Amos Talalele, the offensive and defensive lines made it tough for Carlmont on both sides of the ball. 

“It forced our kids to play physical football, which we didn’t do last week defensively, but we did, for the most part, tonight,” said Eric Rado, Carlmont’s head coach. 

With so much of the offensive identity for the Scots revolving around the run game, senior running back John Hanna had a tall task as the lead running back. In the Scots’ first three games, Hanna rushed for 544 yards and six touchdowns on 69 carries. With 28 carries for 180 yards on Friday night, Hanna has continued his run of at least 150 yards rushing in every game this season.

He’s done a heck of a job. He’s committed himself in the weight room. It’s a testament to his hard work the last two, three years,” Rado said.

While conceding the strength of the Bruin’s defense was the size of their line, Hanna handed the credit to his offensive line. 

“At the end of the day, when you play as hard as our line, it doesn’t matter. Size doesn’t really mean that much. When you run hard, play hard, [and] block hard, everything just comes together and we can run it,” Hanna said. “We were expecting a harder run, but at the end of the day, we were able to come through and we were able to execute.” 

The first-quarter possession changes were made up by a red zone fumble by Santa Clara junior running back Matthew Nguyen, turnovers on downs, and punts. Carlmont’s offense finally gained some momentum after a 32-yard completion from Wiessinger to senior wide receiver Luca Byers-Mora, eventually leading to a 33-yard field goal by senior kicker Conner Cook that put the Scots on the board first with 7:14 left in the second quarter.

Santa Clara’s offense failed to get a first down on their next possession, and then Carlmont senior Trevor Johnson capped off a 70-yard drive with a seven-yard touchdown run to put the Scots up 10-0 with more than three minutes left in the first half. A string of turnovers ensued, starting with a strip sack of Bruins junior quarterback Matthew Conklin by Carlmont junior linebacker Quinn Giacomini. 

Carlmont would give it right back to Santa Clara after a failed exchange between Wiessinger and Byers-Mora that put the ball on the turf and in Bruin hands. Santa Clara made some progress before the Scots’ pass rush forced a turnover on downs just before halftime. 

Turnovers opened the second half. First, a fumble by Johnson for the Scots, then a fumble at the Carlmont 3-yard line by Bruins senior running back Rayden Khuraijam. Then the interception off of Wiessinger led to Santa Clara finally getting on the board with a five-yard touchdown run by senior Orlando Lewis to make it a 10-7 game. 

Carlmont would fumble it for the third time, but the Bruins once again struggled to hold on to the ball, fumbling it right back on a poor exchange on a handoff. Carlmont ended their run of turning the ball over but faced a fourth and goal from the 10-yard line. Wiessinger went 6-of-13 for 83 yards passing with the interception, but also ended up making one of the game’s biggest plays. 

With nobody open, Wiessinger had to improvise, scrambling and eventually punching it into the endzone to practically put the game away with 2:43 left. Wong’s end zone interception on a tip drill sealed it, as the Scots held on to win with the final score being 17-7.

Both teams now head into a bye week before starting league plays with opposite records, as the Scots improved to 3-1 while the Bruins fell to 1-3 on the season.

The Scots’ next game is on Sept. 30 at home for their league opener against Capuchino.