With the support of an energetic home crowd, the varsity football team earned its first victory of the season Saturday afternoon. The Sharks beat St. Monica, 17-3, in Malibu’s (1-2) first home game of the season.
The Sharks worked hard on both sides of the ball to get the win. All three scores came on possessions that followed Mariner turnovers.
"We put it all together," Sharks head coach Ray Humphrey said. "We played good offense and controlled the ball like we're supposed to, and played great defense and made them turn over the ball. It was a turnover battle, and we took advantage of that. Our offense got clicking today."
Humphrey said running backs Devon Baldinger and Nate Dowler "ran the ball hard," and he complimented the efforts of the offensive and defensive linemen Eddie Johnstone, Alden Quartz, Nick Caldwell, Evan Anthony and Chris Garcia. Humphrey also noted the impressive defensive play by seniors Dylan Cranson and Hunter Johnson.
"It was just an all-around team effort," Humphrey said.
The game began with several possessions by both teams leading to no scoring. As the quarter neared the end, St. Monica powered down the field with a series of strong running plays. The Mariners reached Malibu's half-yard line with seconds remaining. St. Monica was unable to get a touchdown on the next play as Malibu's Cooper Smart made a tackle for a three-yard loss.
St. Monica was forced to kick a field goal right after the second quarter began, taking a 3-0 lead. The next Malibu possession included some great runs by Baldinger as Malibu got deep into St. Monica territory. However, a fumble (which Malibu recovered) and a five-yard delay of game penalty stopped the momentum, and the Sharks were forced to punt.
The Mariners did not have the ball back for long. Three plays into the possession, Smart recovered a St. Monica fumble at the Mariners' 22-yard line and ran it back 18 yards to put the Malibu offense in position for a touchdown. Three plays later, the Sharks hit the end zone with a half-yard run by Baldinger. Chris Navarro converted the extra point to put Malibu up 7-3.
St. Monica fumbled again on the next possession, giving Malibu the ball on the Mariners' 49-yard line. Malibu quickly went down the field with two impressive runs by Dowler, a 15-yard personal foul penalty by St. Monica and a successful pass from quarterback Dylan Miller to Brennan Cassone. Three plays later, Miller pushed his way into the end zone. Following Navarro's extra point, the Sharks were up 14-3
The Mariners were unable to do much on the next possession, and Malibu went into the locker room with a solid lead.
The second half began with a brief possession by St. Monica that ended with a punt. A costly fumble by Malibu at its own 34-yard line gave the ball back to the Mariners with good position. St. Monica reached the 20-yard marker, but followed that with a five-yard penalty and an 11-yard loss on a sack by Malibu's Cranson, who caught an interception on the next play. He ran it back to the Mariners' 35-yard line.
Malibu threatened to score another touchdown, reaching the Mariners’ four-yard line after Miller connected with Cassone for a 19-yard gain. But this was followed by two incomplete passes and a loss of yards on a running play. As the fourth quarter began, the Sharks settled for a field goal by the consistent Navarro, giving Malibu a commanding 14-point lead.
The Mariners were not able to do anything on the next possession, and Malibu followed this with more successful offensive movement. A third-down pass to Anthony Turner brought the Sharks to St. Monica's 19-yard line. On the next play, it appeared Miller had connected with Cassone for a touchdown, but the referee ruled the receiver was out of bounds, and Malibu lost possession of the ball. A photo shows it was the wrong call.
St. Monica's next possession was again unsuccessful. It included a sack by Malibu's Hunter Johnson. The Sharks later reached the Mariners' 12-yard line. On the next play, Miller threw his only interception of the game to St. Monica's J.P. Kaczor in the end zone. The Mariners were unable to capitalize on the turnover, and their possession concluded with a sack by Malibu's Garcia.
Both teams had one more possession, but neither scored. Cassone catching an interception in the final play of the game.
The Sharks are on the road again next week for a Friday game against Bellarmine Jefferson. Malibu's next home game is Saturday, Oct. 1 against Flintridge Prep.