Owls football drops season opener


In its 2015 season opener, the Citrus College football team lost 24-14 against Palomar College as turnovers and penalties proved costly.
The Owls fell behind early after the Comets recovered a fumble by running back Robert Gonzalez deep in Citrus territory. The Owls were able to minimize their mishap by holding Palomar to a field goal.
On the ensuing possession, freshman quarterback Brian Meyette led Citrus to a touchdown after finding wide receiver Andre Long wide open for a 66-yard touchdown. Long finished with five catches for a team-leading 95 yards.
The Owls took a 6-3 lead after kicker Ryosuke Machida missed the extra point.
However, that would be the only time Citrus led.
Although they had multiple chances to take the lead the rest of the game, the Owls were done in by penalties and turnovers.
Two Citrus passes were intercepted and the Owls fumbled three times, twice losing possession of the ball, including one that lead to a Palomar touchdown.
The Owls botched a punt in their own end zone midway through the first quarter. The Comets recovered it for a touchdown.
“Turnovers hurt us, especially the punt for a touchdown, that we dropped in the end zone, it was huge,” said Eduardo Pacheco, Owls’ defensive coordinator. “It’s all about momentum.”
Citrus committed 14 penalties for a loss of 120 yards, their highest total since committing 17 penalties in 2013 against Pasadena City College.
Despite the miscues, the Owls did show flashes of brilliance during which the offense moved the ball easily, such as the drive in the second quarter that brought Citrus within three points.
Meyette orchestrated a 67-yard drive that lead to a 24-yard touchdown by wide receiver Gino Mastandrea. The Owls decided to go for two instead of the extra point and were rewarded when tight end Christian Beltran pulled in the pass from Meyette, cutting the Palomar lead to 17-14. “Overall, it was a pretty good performance,” Meyette said. “But we have to always stay on the throttle. Sometimes we let off and we can’t be doing that.”
Meyette finished 32 of 52 for 344 yards passing and two touchdowns. He also threw two interceptions.
Citrus’ defense was a bright spot as they recorded six sacks, including three from sophomore linebacker Dillon Fink.  In comparison, the Owls recorded 20 sacks for all of last season.
“Fink is a great player,” Pacheco said. “We’re a lot better off the edge this year. I was happy overall with the defense, but we have to get better. It’s a team effort.”
The defense applied a substantial amount of pressure on Palomar’s three quarterbacks. The Owls defense gave up only 256 yards of total offense.
“We have three really good quarterbacks that we feel comfortable with,” said Joe Early, Palomar head football coach. “We wanted to get them into game experience and see how they responded. That’s why you saw the three of them.”
Citrus will go on the road and face College of the Canyons on Sept. 12, who defeated defending state champions Mt. San Antonio College, 30-6, on Sept. 5.  “We’re going to treat Canyons like any other team. We’re going to watch film and just start preparing,“ said sophomore defensive end Justin Hornsby. “Palomar is in the past, and it’s time to focus on Canyons.”

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