Deacon Hill accounted for seven touchdowns and more than 360 yards of total offense, as Santa Barbara clinched at least a share of the Channel League title in its 53-9 victory Friday night over Cabrillo.
The junior quarterback connected with senior wide receiver Jackson Gonzales on three of his six touchdown passes, while Deacon also threw two touchdowns to senior Dakota Hill.
“I felt like he was due for a breakout game, but I’ve felt that he’s played consistent all year — and that’s all I’ve asked him to do,” Dons coach J.T. Stone said about his signal caller.
Hill was so good Friday at Lompoc’s Huyck Stadium that even his miscues resulted in points.
Midway through the third quarter, Hill tried to squeeze a pass into tight coverage. The ball ended up bouncing off the helmet of the intended receiver before falling into the arms of Cabrillo’s Cade Mcnamee, who took it back 16 yards for the score.
Santa Barbara (7-2, 4-0) was coming off an emotional win 27-21 win last week over Lompoc. Although the score indicated otherwise, the Dons faced their struggles in the third quarter. After building a 34-3 lead at the half and scoring on itsi first drive in the third, Santa Barbara was able to make the plays when they needed to down the stretch.
“We can play much better,” Stone said. “Where we’re at, every play is valuable; every series is valuable, so there was a couple of mistakes that we can’t make right now. We’re in game nine and we have a big game next week… we’ve just got to clean up our mistakes.”
The Dons will square off with Dos Pueblos next week with a chance to clinch and outright league title.
Santa Barbara is hoping to have Jake Knecht return from injury, as the junior wideout has missed the past few games due to a hamstring injury.
“I keep forgetting that we don’t have Jake out there,” Stone said.
Gonzales had one of his best games of the season, racking up 180 receiving yards and three TDs — scoring on catches of 9-, 73- and 25-yards. Despite playing on a grass field the past two weeks, the Dons air attack didn’t let up.
“I actually like it better on grass,” Gonzales said. “You can cut better and you can stick your foot in the ground and make guys miss easier.
“That’s are whole offense,” he added. “All you have to do is make one guy miss and we’re off to the races. All four receivers can score so you’ve got to guard us everywhere.”
Gonzales, who was surprised to learn of his impressive stat line Friday night, was anxious to see how good the Dons can be with Knecht returning. He has also been impressed with Hill’s development as a leader.
“He’s really come into his role,” Gonzales said. “You have to be that big voice — you’re the quarterback. But he’s really stepped into that role beautifully. He’s commanded everyone, he’s done his job, but he hasn’t stepped out of line. He’s kept everyone in check.”
The Dons outgained the Conquistadors 532 to 185 in total offense. Santa Barbara, who was playing without its two starting inside linebackers Charlie Figueroa and Johnny Valencia, got contributions from just about everyone wearing the road whites.
Sophomore Isai Nevarez had a sack and junior Noach Wood had two sacks. Maury Mariche and Joseph Llamas each had interceptions.
“It’s always a confidence booster to get a win,” Hill said postgame. “Especially coming up to Lompoc twice and winning here twice. That was a big goal that we had coming into the season.
Last week was full of energy and emotion,” he added. “We just have to carry that into every week, every day of practice and every day of training.”