Santa Fe Christian Eagles rally past Escondido Charter White Tigers, 20-13  

Senior running back Jeremy Love scores on a pair of touchdown runs and the defense makes big plays when needed


A little Love and some hard licks provided the right tonic for the Santa Fe Christian High football team on Friday.

Senior running back Jeremy Love scored on a pair of touchdown runs and the defense made big plays when needed as the Eagles held off previously unbeaten Escondido Charter for a 20-13 nonleague victory on the winners’ turf in a matchup of defending league champions.

“We just had to maintain our focus from the start,” said Love, who rushed for 127 yards on 12 carries, including touchdown runs of 27 and 38 yards. “We have to have the mindset that every team out there thinks they’re better than us, so we can never slack off.”

Santa Fe Christian (5-1) overcame a 10-6 deficit in the fourth period by scoring twice within a span of 2 minutes, 11 seconds. Love’s 38-yard TD burst up the middle with 9:45 left in the final stanza came on the first play after a bad snap in punt formation by Escondido Charter resulted in a 9-yard loss and a first down for the hosts.

The White Tigers (4-1) fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and Parker Guiltinan recovered for the Eagles at the 27-yard line. A 12-yard gain by Love gave Santa Fe Christian a first-and-goal at the 2, and Chuck Sawyer took it in from there behind the blocks of Diego Morales and Joshua Armbruster to give the hosts a 20-10 advantage with 7:34 remaining in regulation.

An interception by Carson Keller ended Escondido Charter’s next possession, but a blocked punt by Horatio Keller led to Jorden Campbell’s second field goal of the game, a 37-yarder which cut the deficit to 20-13 with four minutes left.

The visitors had one more chance after A.J. Goodman recovered an Eagles fumble at the White Tigers’ 26-yard line with 1:31 remaining. Quarterback Skylar MacMahon completed passes of 18 yards to Noah Reyes, 15 yards to Danny Lopez and 19 yards to John Scates as Escondido Charger garnered a first down at the Santa Fe Christian 23-yard line with 36 seconds left.

When MacMahon tried to scramble on fourth down from the 20, he was met by Eagles defensive end Luke Heggie, who made the stop with 6.8 seconds left to seal the outcome.

“Our guys might be undersized but they play real hard and I’m super proud of them,” said Santa Fe Christian coach Jon Wallace, who guided his team to a 10-1 record and a Coastal League title a year ago. “It’s amazing that Escondido Charter is in Division 5. That’s a real good team.”

“Our defensive line was working hard the whole game,” said Eagles linebacker Britain Kowalchek, who applied pressure on MacMahon throughout the game and was in on one of Santa Fe Christian’s four sacks. “As the game went on, we made the right adjustments.”

The White Tigers had averaged 51 points per game in their first four games before being contained by the Eagles, a Division 2 team.

“We gave up two easy scores and you can’t do that against a good, well-coached team,” said Escondido Charter coach Jon Goodman, who guided the White Tigers to their first-ever league championship last year in the Pacific League. “We have to take this and learn from it.”

An interception by Sawyer on the second play of the game set up the hosts with good field position at the Escondido Charter 37-yard line. A 22-yard run by Kevin Olah picked up a first down at the 11-yard line, but Josiah Hay and Nick Taylor each made tackles for losses and Eagles running back Dane Lee was stopped short on fourth down by Scates at the 4-yard line.

The Santa Fe Christian defense forced the White Tigers into a three-and-out situation, and a short punt allowed the Eagles to take possession at the Escondido Charter 31-yard line midway through the first period.

It took just two plays before Love rambled around the left corner for a 27-yard touchdown run on his first carry of the contest with 5:36 left in the opening stanza, giving the Eagles a 6-0 lead after Noah Reyes got a hand on the PAT try.

A fumble recovery by Santa Fe Christian’s Greyson Mundis gave hist team possession at the Eagles’ 45-yard line, but the White Tigers defense stiffened and forced a turnover on downs at the Escondido Charter 33 with 1:56 left in the first half.

A 48-yard pass completion from MacMahon to Aidan Volk picked up a first down at the 5, but Carson Keller broke up two pass attempts to Scates in the end zone and the visitors were forced to settle for a 26-yard field goal by Campbell as time expired in the first half.

A 30-yard TD pass from MacMahon to Scates on Escondido Charter’s first possession of the second half gave the White Tigers a 10-6 lead with 3:58 elapsed in the third quarter. MacMahon, a senior left-hander, completed 17 of 34 passes for 215 yards with two interceptions and one TD, which was his 17th scoring pass of the season. Scates had five receptions for 71 yards.

Santa Fe Christian 20, Escondido Charter 13

Escondido Charter 0 3 7 3 – 13

Santa Fe Christian 6 0 0 14 – 20

SFC — Love 27 run (kick failed)

EC — FG Campbell 26

EC — Scates 30 pass from MacMahon (Campbell kick)

SFC — Love 38 run (Kowalchek kick)

SFC — Sawyer 2 run (Kowalchek kick)

EC — FG Campbell 37