ESCONDIDO (9-08-2018) / REVISED 9-09-2018) – Visiting Southwestern College stunned Palomar 42-6 in the Comets' home football opener at Escondido High School's Chick Embrey Field at Wilson Stadium on Saturday night.
On a night Palomar could do little right for much of the evening and Southwestern picked up momentum after taking control of the game, the Jaguars won by the biggest margin in the series since Palomar defeated Southwestern 55-0 in Chula Vista just days after the 9-11 attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
On Saturday night, the Comets had no answer for the Jaguars' Deandre Daniels, like injured Palomar quarterback Rodney Thompson a product of St. Augustine High's powerhouse program in San Diego. Daniels rushed for 222 yards and touchdowns of 5 yards, 62 yards, 1 yard and 66 yards for the game's first four scores.
Meanwhile, Palomar shot itself in the foot over and over and with broken plays, interceptions, untimely penalties that that allowed Southwestern to keep drives going after being stopped by the Comets' defense and, on two occasions, long touchdowns on extra plays created by the penalties.
"They definitely outplayed us and there were no its, ands or buts about it. It's as simple as that," Palomar coach Joe Early said. Óur defense was on the field for way too many plays as (Southwestern) controlled the ball and the clock.
"Their run game was real good (420 yards and five touchdowns on the ground), and we couldn't get anything established on offense. We had way too many breakdowns."
After Palomar lost a second quarterback to injury in an eight-day span, its No. 4 QB Shea Morales (Carlsbad High School) stepped up and connected on all five passes he threw for 51 yards late in the fourth quarter. Morales drove the Comets 60 yards on nine plays against the Jaguars' reserves and took the ball into the end zone himself from the 1-yard line with 1 minute, 13 seconds left on the clock for Palomar's only points of the night.
Some other positives for the Comets included:
-- Spectacular punting by freshman Jacob Stepanek from Temescal Canyon High School in Lake Elsinore, who delivered 11 punts, only five of which were returnable, for a 39.6 yard average, including three of 50 yards-plus and four inside the 20-yard line (3 inside the 10). One punt was a 53-yarder that pinned the Jaguars at their 2-yard line, and Stepanek also had a 57-yarder nullified when he was the victim on a roughing-the-kicker penalty.
-- A forced fumble by Jihad Hightower and Efrain Contreras and alert recovery by Ryan McCowan as Southwestern's Devajay Hinton attempted to return a Stepanek punt late in the second quarter. Hightower also had an interception.
-- Seven solo tackles, a sack, tackle for loss and interception by freshman down lineman Jordan Duson (Oceanside High).
-- Seven tackles (six solo) by Maxwell Milner (Mission Hills High).
-- Six tackles, all solo and two for losses, by Chris Calhoun (Mission Hills High).
-- Five tackles (1.5 for loss) by Spencer Kaoanga (Oceanside High).
-- Four kickoff returns for 90 yards by Damon Wigand (Mission Hills High).
-- Multiple receptions by Devin Nilson (Carlsbad High), Bryce Walker and Johnny Armentrout (El Camino High). Nison had five catches for 47 yards with two other receptions called back; Walker had six receptions for 42 yards; and Armentrout two for 25 yards.
Palomar will be back at Chick Embrey Field next Saturday at 6 p.m. to host another non-conference opponent, Citrus. The Owls defeated Compton College 73-0 on Saturday afternoon.