On Oct. 27, the Dons (7-1 overall, 3-1 Peninsula Athletic League) had their seven-game win streak snapped, losing 21-14 against Half Moon Bay (8-0 overall, 4-0 PAL). The Cougars struck first to open up the game, scoring on a 90-yard rushing touchdown on their very first play, putting them up 7-0.
“I mean, it was the first play of the game, we weren’t focused,” said senior linebacker Dante Pacini. “We just didn’t really have the right formation … that’s just how it goes in football,”
The Dons tied the game in the second quarter with a 3-yard touchdown from junior running back Paul Lautaimi, who ran the ball 28 times throughout the game.
“I could’ve done better,” Lautaimi said.
Despite Lautaimi’s touchdown, the Cougars managed to take back their lead and further extend it to 21-7 in the third quarter. The Dons brought the score back to 21-14 through a touchdown pass from senior quarterback Gabe Campos to junior tight end Lopeti Pierce.
The Cougars defense stayed solid throughout the game, which limited the running game of the Dons to only 165 yards, forcing Campos to try and beat them with his arm. In response, Campos seemed to struggle throwing the ball, going 8-24 for 52 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Despite the lack of offense, head coach Steve Sell believes that there is always a good side to things.
“I’m disappointed, but I’m proud of how the kids played. They played hard … they never quit … thats a good team we lost to,” Sell said. “I think we played a really good defense. We started most of our drives around 20 … and that played a large part in why we had a hard time scoring.”
However, Lautaimi, holding back tears, was highly disappointed in the team’s performance during the game.
“We can’t lose again, we can’t let this happen,” Lautaimi said.
Nevertheless, Pacini believes that the team’s efforts shone through Friday, as the 21 points the Cougars put on the board was their lowest all season.
“I mean it was a good team, we had a really good effort [and] played really well,” Pacini said. “They just had a better night, they just beat us, there’s just nothing we can really do about it except rebound.”
The Dons hope to use their first loss as motivation for the rest of the season.
“We’re just gonna work harder in practice, we can’t lose again, we can’t let this happen, we just gotta work harder because we can’t lose anymore,” Lautaimi said. “We can’t let this hold us down, we gotta come back next week better and stronger.”
Up next, the Dons will face Hillsdale (7-1 overall, 3-1 PAL) in the homecoming game on Nov. 3.
“[The] homecoming game is always a tough game,” Pacini said. “Now that we lost, we’re just gonna come out a lot more focused, pressured, and with intensity now to win against Hillsdale.”