Prep Football: Rancho Bernardo High’s last-minute rally falls short
By Michael Bower
The Rancho Bernardo High football team piled up 314 yards of offense – 298 coming via the arm of new quarterback Michael Searson. But in the end the Broncos fell a few yards short.
Escondido scored 14 unanswered points in the final eight minutes and celebrated a come-from-behind 28-27 victory over the host Broncos after John Tapia’s 45-yard game-winning field goal attempt fell a few yards shy Friday night in both teams’ season opener.
Searson led the Broncos from their own 25-yard line down to the Cougars’ 28 in the final 1-minute, 20 seconds of the game. There was just one tick left when Tapia lined up the 45-yard field goal attempt with Rancho Bernardo trailing 28-27. Tapia’s kick was right on target, but landed a few yards short of the goal post.
“That’s a tough task for anybody, kicking a 45-yard field goal in the final seconds to win the game,” said Broncos standout receiver Charles Ensley, who hauled in a career-best 16 balls for 160 yards and a touchdown. “But even though it doesn’t show on the scoreboard, I felt like we did a great job getting in position to win the game.”
The Broncos seemed to be in control after taking a 27-14 lead with 11:54 to go, when Searson hit Brian Riley for a 21-yard touchdown – his second score of the game. But Escondido remained calm and stuck with the ground game and it eventually paid off.
The Cougars’ Marcus Taylor capped an eight-play drive with a 6-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to 27-21. The Broncos had a chance to eat up some clock, but fumbled on back-to-back plays and were forced to punt it back to the Cougars with 5:18 to go.
Escondido marched right down the field, running eight times in the nine-play scoring drive. Quarterback Mitch Bartram’s 30-yard burst gave Escondido the 28-27 lead with 1:22 to go.
“I feel like everybody fought and played their hearts out, but we have to clean up the little things – penalties, fumbles.” Ensley said. “Every little detail can affect the outcome of the game and that’s what happened tonight.”
The Broncos trailed 14-6 at halftime before scoring three unanswered touchdowns to take the lead. Tapia accounted for the first six Broncos points, hitting field goals from 26 and 39 yards.
One thing the Broncos should be feeling confident about is their quarterback. Searson, who is taking over for the graduated All-Palomar Leaguer Trent Sessions, shined in the opener. The junior completed 28 of 36 passes for 298 yards and three touchdowns. He found six different receivers and at one point completed 12 straight passes.
Ensley’s performance was spectacular, but Riley gave notice that the Broncos will not just be a one-man show at receiver. Riley had four catches for 59 yards, including TD catches of 17 and 21 yards.
The Broncos’ (0-1) defense was worn down by the fourth quarter. Escondido ran the ball 44 times for 286 yards. The Cougars (1-0) completed just four passes for 29 yards.
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