The Titans saved their best for last Saturday night.
Nipomo stunned Santa Maria with 15 points in the last 1:22 and came away with a 21-14 Ocean League win at Nipomo.
Declan Coles, in the thick of a fierce Saints rush, kicked the winning field goal high and dead center through the uprights with 21.4 seconds left.
“This year is my first year kicking,” Coles said afterward.
“I kicked one field goal last week (in a 24-10 loss at Mission Prep.) I was missing them left and right yesterday in practice. I stayed afterward with our quarterback, Nate Reese, (worked some more) and we made sure we got it right.”
After the Coles field goal, Titans defensive back Justin McKee intercepted a Murad Alamari pass on the last play of the game, ran the ball in for a score and was greeted by his jubilant teammates en masse in the Santa Maria end zone.
Nipomo scored from the Santa Maria 2 to pull the Titans within 14-12 with 1:22 left. David Placencia and Alejandro Castillo broke up Reese’s two-point conversion pass for the Saints.
Nipomo needed to recover the ensuing onside kick to have a chance, and Coles delivered with a hard spinner to the left that got past the Santa Maria front line.
“The ball just popped up in front of me,” Alex Terrones said, and Terrones recovered the ball for Nipomo at the Santa Maria 32.
“I tried an onside kick last week, and it didn’t go to well,” said Coles. “This time, things worked out.”
They did indeed for the Titans, though their receivers dropped two Reese passes in the end zone before Coles connected on the 25-yard field goal try on fourth down.
On an earlier fourth down, Reese hit Coles for 10 yards and a first down at the Santa Maria 20 to keep the winning drive alive.
“Our defense won the game for us,” said Nipomo coach Tony Dodge. “Our offense turned the ball over four times, but our defense held firm.”
The Titans kept the Saints from sustaining enough to run out the clock as Santa Maria was nursing a 14-6 lead.
Before the late touchdown, the Titans recovered the ball deep in Saints territory on a bad snap from punt formation, but the Saints defense kept the Titans from doing anything with that gift.
Alamari hooked up with Nick Martinez for two scores in a 21-7 Santa Maria win at Morro Bay last week. Saturday night, Alamari hit Martinez for a 70-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. He connected with Martinez for another long pass on the first drive of the second half.
Alamari has figured in all five Santa Maria touchdowns this year. He ran for a score at Morro Bay.
Reese scored on a quarterback keeper for the first Nipomo score Saturday night.
The Titans went for two and made it, but a penalty cancelled the score. The following conversion kick failed.
The Saints are banged up and had less than 30 players available Saturday night. Santa Maria’s star running back, Sammy Herrera, was out with an injured wrist.
The game was moved up to 5 p.m. from a scheduled 7 p.m. start. Fans, masked up in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, were allowed in the west stands only.
As a safety protocol, no spectators were allowed on the field after the game.
Nipomo is tentatively scheduled to host Morro Bay at 7 p.m., and Santa Maria is tentatively slated to host Atascadero at 6 p.m. in games next Friday night.