Torrey Pines Falcons won 23-10 over the Steele Canyon Cougars, a Division 1 semi-finalist last season. Torrey Pines opened the game looking like the young team they are, clearly struggling against the talent-packed Cougars, rushing 6 times for net 1 yard and attempting one pass which fell incomplete. Meanwhile the Cougars rushed 11 times for 36 yards and completed 4 of 6 passes for 54 yards, scoring the game’s first points on a field goal.
As the second quarter opened the Falcons had made offensive and defensive adjustments, beginning to get defensive penetration into the Cougar backfield. The turning point seemed to be a sack by Jacob Schneider forcing the Cougars to punt. A line drive bouncing punt rolled to the 5, but the Falcon offense started mixing up their formations and play calls and the Cougars never regained their balance. Torrey Pines drove 90 yards, including a 19-yard catch by Mac Bingham, breaking tackles all the way, long runs by Sully O’Brien, Jack Nelson, and Bingham, and catches by Scotty Gange and Beau Morgans, capped by a Tanner Wyandt field goal to tie at 3-3.
Steele Canyon had to change formation to put another man in the backfield to protect the pocket, but the Falcon secondary kept tight coverage and Cougar quarterback Thomas Fishburne had trouble all night finding an open receiver, finishing the night with a very respectable 16 of 24 for 145 yards and 1 interception, but also scrambled 11 times for net 14 yards. Meanwhile Cougar-designed runs netted 43 yards in 14 carries. By contrast after the adjustments, Torrey Pines rushed 24 times for 193 yards and completed 8 of 12 passes for 197 yards and 1 interception, with sophomore quarterback Miles Hastings showing exceptional poise. On the Falcon’s next possession they drove for a touchdown from their own 12-yard line. Michael Gadinis caught a pass and broke a tackle for 43 yards and three plays later Hastings found Gange in the end zone for the score. With 52 seconds remaining in the half the Falcon defense flexed, kept the clock running, and the Cougars ran out of time ending the half behind 10-3.
On the first play of the second half Hastings hit Gadinas, Gabe Gymr made a key block, and Gadinas scored to make it 17-3. The Cougars ground out a 17-play, 48-yard drive stalled on sacks by Schneider and Bingham, and when a fourth down pass was tipped the Falcons took over on their own 22. Midway through the fourth quarter the Cougars clawed back to 17-10 with a solid drive. But on the first play after the kickoff Luke Duerr burst through the line and ran 74 yards for a touchdown, and the Cougars were tamed, making increasingly desperate calls as time ticked away. A deep pass was intercepted by Morgans and run back all the way to the Cougar 38, from where the Falcons methodically used up the remaining four minutes. With first and goal at the 4, Hastings sportingly and wisely took knees until the clock ran out.