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San Clemente Can't Muster Anything Against Dominguez


Two weeks ago, San Clemente was the county's fourth-ranked team and the third-ranked team in Division II. Today, the Tritons are handing in their equipment and wondering what happened to their season after a 35-28 first-round playoff loss to Compton Dominguez Friday at San Clemente High.

Dominguez (8-3) gained nearly five times as many yards as the Tritons and made most of the big plays, including the biggest one with 1 minute 16 seconds left in the game. From the San Clemente 43, halfback JaJaun Doakes caught a Jason Cooper pass over the middle, bounced off Triton safety Ryan King and sprinted into the end zone.

San Clemente, the only team to beat top-ranked Esperanza, had only 135 yards of offense and turned the ball over on downs with four consecutive incomplete passes.

"Our inability to move the ball the last four or five weeks killed us," San Clemente Coach Eric Patton said. "We just never got any better."

San Clemente's defense wasn't any better than its offense Friday. The Tritons, who were missing three defensive starters with injuries, gave up 540 yards, including 380 on the ground. If not for San Clemente's special teams and Dominguez's 150 yards in penalties, the score wouldn't have been close.

"The officials kept them out of the game more than anything we did," Patton said.

Dominguez started slowly as San Clemente built a 14-7 halftime lead. Chris Smith scored on two short runs, both coming after Dominguez turnovers.

But in the second half, the Dons simplified their offense and began handing the ball to Justin Wyatt (172 yards, 13 carries), Marcus Dansby (111 yards, five carries) and Doakes (45 yards, 12 carries). Dansby's 55-yard touchdown on a reverse tied it at 14. He broke into the open after completing a full-circle spin in the air. Wyatt gave Dominguez a 21-14 lead on a 57-yard run.

Smith (31 yards, 12 carries) scored his third touchdown on an 88-yard kickoff return with two minutes left in the third quarter. But Dominguez came right back on Dansby's 21-yard run. San Clemente (8-3) tied it at 28 with 3:58 left in the game on a Dan Coviello-to-Tim Burnette 28-yard touchdown pass play. But the Tritons couldn't get the lead.

"Those are the best athletes we've played against," Patton said. "Their speed and athleticism killed us."

Dominguez Coach Keith Donerson said he had a feeling speed would be the difference.

"We matched their size and then we made the plays with our speed," he said.


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