CHULA VISTA — During the regular season, Fallbrook High's passing combination of quarterback Scott Barrick and wide receiver Bill Dunckel combined for a county-high 71 completions. Against Sweetwater High in a San Diego Section 3-A quarterfinal game Friday night, it clicked only twice.
During the season, Barrick, the county's leading passer, completed nearly 60% of his passes. Against Sweetwater, he completed 9 of 21 passes . . . 1 of 8 in the first half.
So Fallbrook, which has never been known for much of a running attack or defense, was soundly beaten, right?
For awhile, it looked as if that would be the case.
However, Fallbrook rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to win, 31-23, at Southwestern College and advance to the 3-A semifinals next Saturday against the winner of tonight's San Dieguito-Mount Miguel game.
What happened? When he first came off the field after the game, Fallbrook Coach Tom Pack said: "Don't ask me how we did it."
But he was only joking. He knew the reason.
"Actually, our defense did a heck of a job," Pack said. "We were down at the half (17-7) and we came out in the third quarter and shut them down. That fired up our offense."
And Fallbrook's usually potent offense needed something to get it going. Barrick's poor first-half performance and three turnovers put the Warriors in a hole at halftime. It wasn't looking good.
"Hey, I just told them that any team that made as many mistakes as we did in the first half and was only down by 10 points was all right," Pack said. "Then, the kids went out and played a great second half."
Led by defensive tackle Kenny Mintz, Fallbrook's defense took control of the second half. It stopped Sweetwater on three plays to open the third quarter and forced a punt. A good return by Fallbrook's Gary Nelson placed the ball at the Sweetwater 33 and Fallbrook's offense began to surge.
In the first half, Barrick had been pressured on some passing attempts and had others tipped away by Sweetwater's quick-retreating linebackers. In the second half, he went to play-action to freeze the Red Devils and his receivers began to come free.
The passing game also opened things up for Fallbrook running back Ty Barksdale, who gained 60 yards after halftime. His running set Barrick up for a one-yard quarterback sneak that cut Sweetwater's lead to 17-14 with 5:29 remaining in the third quarter.
After a change of possessions, Mintz broke through the Sweetwater line to sack Red Devil quarterback Danny Aina in the end zone for a safety, making it 17-16.
Meanwhile, Fallbrook had great field possession after the safety as Dunckel returned the free kick to the Sweetwater 43. Four plays later, Barksdale dived into the end zone from the two. After a two-point conversion, Fallbrook led, 24-17.
Fallbrook scored again in the fourth quarter on another short run by Barksdale to wrap it up.
Sweeetwater, meanwhile, finished 9-2, suffering only its third loss in its last 48 games.
Granite Hills 46, Mira Mesa 0
SAN DIEGO--Mira Mesa turned the ball over five times, and each turnover resulted in Granite Hills' points in an upset victory at Mira Mesa. Granite Hills plays the winner of tonight's Vista-Montgomery game next Friday.
Andre Falkquay, one of Mira Mesa's top special teams players, fumbled away two punts and one kickoff and Granite Hills scored each time.
With 3:40 left in the first quarter, Granite Hills linebacker P.J. Mikolajewski intercepted Mira Mesa quarterback Ed Allison's first pass and returned it 35 yards to put Granite Hills ahead, 6-0.
With 7:53 left in the half, Falkquay mishandled a punt and a few plays later Robert Padillo ran 21 yards for a touchdown. Padillo scored again less than two minutes later from the 20 after Falkquay fumbled on the kickoff. Two minutes later, Ricky Stauffer scored on a two-yard run after Falkquay mishandled a punt.
In all, Padillo scored three touchdowns and had 142 yards rushing in 17 carries. Tom Vardell added two scores, on runs of 1 and 31, and totaled 111 yards in 21 carries.
Mira Mesa (8-3-0) finished with 135 yards in total offense, Essex Burton gaining 111 of those yards on 17 rushing attempts.
Grossmont 29, Christian 7
LA MESA--Grossmont scored touchdowns on four of its five second half possessions to break open a close game and defeat Christian for the second time this season and advance to the San Diego Section 2-A semifinals Saturday.
Grossmont (7-3-1) will play the winner of tonight's Lincoln-El Camino game at Mesa College next Saturday.
Christian (6-6) scored first on a 33-yard pass from quarterback Jon Okken to wide receiver David Beezer late in the first half.
Grossmont's Erik Webb kicked a 21-yard field goal with 1:30 left in the half to cut Christian's lead to 7-3.