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Jaguars come up short on fourth down, fall to San Marcos for first time since 1999


October 28, 2013
Valley Center's varsity football team is having a season of firsts, but definitely not in the way they'd hoped.

The Jaguars, after winning the first two games of the season in thrilling fashion, have now lost five consecutive games after falling 31–28 at San Marcos on Friday night.

The loss against the Knights is the first since 1999 and comes as another unwelcome first for the Jags, who haven't lost five games in a season since the team went 4–7 in 2006.

"We got better, but we needed to be more studly than them," head coach Rob Gilster said after Friday's game. "We've got to believe that we can finish, we've got to accept it, and go out and grab it. It's so important that these guys don't walk away from this football team at the end of the year believing anything other than the fact that they're great. We're getting closer. We had opportunities, but we just can't get out of our own way."

Early in the game, it was evident that the Jaguars were on a mission to get back to the basics — and in terms of Valley Center football, that means running the ball.

The ground-and-pound offense elicited a few subtly-derisive comments from the San Marcos announcer, who, used to the Knights' fast-paced, shotgun offense as he no doubt is, couldn't help but sigh as he reported with some incredulity that "The Jaguars continue to stick with the run game …"

But for the Jaguars, every four-yard pickup on the ground paved the way for some big plays that helped build a 21–17 halftime lead.

The Jags had a pair of rushers top the century mark, as Dalton Larabee had 27 carries for 143 yards and Brad Dozier added 16 carries for 108 yards and a touchdown.

The first Valley Center score came on a 41-yard run by Dozier, who exploded down the sideline and gave his team a 7–3 lead with just under five minutes left in the first quarter.

The second Jaguar touchdown came on a pass from Daniel DeLeon to Luke Konyn from 13 yards out, capping a ten-play drive that saw only two passes. The score put Valley Center ahead 14 –10 with just over seven minutes left in the second quarter.

The Jags extended the lead on another passing touchdown, this one from DeLeon to Dylan Chaffee from nine yards out, once again set up by five consecutive runs on the six-play drive, including a 53-yard scamper by Larabee. Chaffee's touchdown grab gave Valley Center a 21–10 lead with just under two minutes to go before halftime.

The Knights added a quick touchdown after a big kickoff return set them up at the Jags' seven-yard line, and after each team turned the ball over, the half ended with Valley Center up 21–17.

Chaffee came up with another big play early in the second half, as he recovered a San Marcos fumble at the San Marcos seven-yard line, which set up a one-yard touchdown run by Dozier that extended the Valley Center lead to 28–17 with just over six minutes left in the third quarter.

San Marcos responded with another scoring drive, as the quarterback rushed for his third score of the game, to pull back within four points, 28–24, with 3:33 left in the third.

The Knights took the lead early in the fourth quarter after a nine-play, 69-yard drive that ended with a two-yard touchdown run to give San Marcos a 31–28 lead with 11:13 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The teams traded punts, and Valley Center took over at its own 11-yard line with 8:21 left in the game, needing a long, clock-consuming drive to pull back into the lead.

The running game obliged, at least in terms of consuming the clock, as the Jaguars ran the ball 13 consecutive times and ran off more than six minutes of game time as they marched down the field.

But on the game's critical play, the Jags faced fourth-and-two from the San Marcos 17-yard line with 2:17 left in the game.

Eschewing the field goal, the Jaguars sent the offense back onto the field to try to put the game away. They handed the ball to Dozier one more time, but he was stopped one yard short and the Knights took over.

"We're a good team, but we just can't get out of our own way," Coach Gilster told his team after the game. "We don't believe in ourselves. When it comes down to one play, knocking our guy off the ball to get the first down and win the game, we can't do it. And it's not because you're not good enough. God doesn't make junk. He made each one of you a warrior, you just have to go out there and take it. The game was right there, and we let them take it from us. We can't doubt ourselves. You have to believe that you can finish, because it doesn't happen any other way. We're so close. When the season's over, all I want is to say that these guys believe in themselves. We're not there yet, and I know, it's frustrating as heck. But we're going to get there, or die trying. We have to believe. We're going to get back to work on Monday and we're going to win on Friday. If you don't believe that, then don't bother showing up."

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