East County Sports

Alba’s super play saves day for Sultans against Cavers

By Adam Paul

© East County Sports.com

SAN DIEGO (9-26-15) — The Santana Sultans traveled downtown to historic Balboa Stadium to take on the San Diego Cavers in a non-league tilt Friday (Sept. 25).  In a contest that a few experts picked to be a Sultan blowout, the contest was far from it and in fact the Sultans had to pull off a miracle in a 22-21 victory.


The setting for the miracle was Balboa stadium which was the site of the old AFL Chargers and also where they defeated the Boston Patriots to capture the 1963 championship. The stadium was also site for numerous rock concerts including the Beatles in 1964. Putting all history aside the Sultans wanted to make history of their own.

SAN at SD Score

The Sultans on the first drive were able to move the ball pretty well as they were able to get down to the Cavers’ 27-yard line but unfortunately that’s where it would end as the Sultans quarterback FRANKIE GUTIERREZ threw an interception.


However the Sultans defense would pick up the slack as they were able to pin the Cavers back thanks to a couple of penalties. The defense on the drive was led by DOMENIC DEHOYOS and DEVON HENSELMEIR who were able to record a sack on the Cavers quarterback.  The sack forced the Cavers to punt which didn’t end well as JEREMIAH STONE was able to blast through the line and block the punt which went out of the back of the end zone for the safety, giving the Sultans a 2-0 lead.


Both teams throughout the first quarter were able to hold each other with the Sultans wasting a few golden scoring opportunities. The second quarter would see the Sultans drive all the way down to the Cavers 28 and on the next play Gutierrez was picked off again.  The Cavers took full advantage of this as they compiled a 5 play 97-yard drive which included a 47-yard score to take the 7-2 lead.  This lead would hold up and at the half the Cavers went into the locker room with the narrow lead.


The start of the second half didn’t go very well for the mighty Sultans as the Cavers were able to score on the opening possession.  San Diego would use the running game the majority of the time for an 8 play 60-yard drive, which took 5:30, topped off by a 1-yard score to lead 14-2.


The Sultans – not out of it – were able to regroup on their next drive as they were able to pull within 14-9 thanks to a returned onside kick by JUSTIN GEE for 45-yards all the way down to the San Diego 5 for a 1st and goal situation.


Back in business the Sultans finally knocked down the door with a score on a Gutierrez 1-yard sneak.  The 14-9 score would hold up to the end of the third quarter.  The Sultans had their work cut out for them if they were going to hold the Cavers offense but they were up for the challenge.


However the Cavers had other ideas as they were able to extend their lead to 21-9 early on in the fourth thanks in part to a 5-play drive.  The Sultans facing a challenge with a little over 11 minutes left in the game were again able to pull closer as they compiled a 7-play 62-yard scoring drive topped off by a 36-yard scoring strike from Gutierrez to JAMES BRANSON. With the TIMMY TISCHER kick the score was now 21-16.


Santana would hold the Cavers on their next drive and get the ball back with 5:30 left at their own 47-yard line.  The offense went to work as they drove down the field thanks to precision passing by Gutierrez and also some nice running by the senior signal caller for the winning touchdown, regaining the lead 22-21.  Now it was up to the defense to hold.


San Diego hurt themselves a couple of times on the drive as they false started, putting them back at their own 40.  However the penalties were erased as they were able to complete a 32 yarder all the way down to the Santana 28 giving them a first down and putting them in good shape.


A couple of plays later some controversy arose as San Diego threw an incomplete pass and two Sultan defenders hit each other. Out came a yellow flag and a pass interference call.  This brought the Santana boo birds out as it looked completely bogus. However the official had determined that one of the Sultan defenders had hit the San Diego receiver before the incomplete pass thus the call.


So with the pass interference call things looked up for the Cavers as they were in business down in Sultan territory with under a minute to play.  However the Sultans defense came up huge on the very next play as STEPHEN ALBA stepped in front of the pass and intercepted it at the 3-yard line.  This sent the Sultan faithful into elation as the Sultans would take the victory formation.


On the night the Cavers would out gain the Sultans 329-192 thanks in part to 239 on the ground and by looking at the stats you would have thought it was the other way around with a Caver victory but it just goes to show that stats aren’t everything.

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