Sharks fall touchdown short in final league tune-up game

Following last week’s tie against Flintridge Prep, the Malibu High School football team traveled to face Los Angeles Baptist in what would be the Sharks’ final test before the league portion of their schedule starts. Still nursing injuries to starters on the offensive and defensive sides of the team, the Sharks went in to the game hoping to get some sort of momentum (particularly on offense) going into league play. However, penalties and mistakes marred the Sharks’ attempts to win the game, and the team fell 21-14.

The Sharks found success on offense, defense and special teams during the first half. Malibu’s defense held the Knights to only six points during the first half, shutting down their running and passing threats. On offense, the Sharks were still getting used to having quarterback Chris Konkol back from injury and continued to lean on a solid rushing attack. Malibu was able to engineer one scoring drive during the first half, which was capped off by a two-yard touchdown run by junior Devon Baldinger.

The Sharks’ other score of the first half came on a mistake on a punt by the Knights, and Sharks senior receiver and defensive back Jeffrey Bloeser was able to capitalize and give the Sharks a 14-6 lead going into the half.

Halftime festivities were underway at Los Angeles Baptist High School, as the Knights held their numerous homecoming festivities during the break.

The Sharks opened the second half with a three and out, as the Knights defense stepped up and began to pressure the Sharks more than it did in the first half.

The Sharks’ defense then stepped up big on two straight possessions. Baldinger picked off a pass in the red zone as the Knights were preparing to score, and Baldinger again made a play on the next drive as he was able to recover a fumble on the goal line.

However, while the Sharks’ defense was making plays to keep the team ahead, the offense made a plethora of penalties and other mistakes that continually let the Knights back into the game. The Sharks’ offense had many holding calls, a couple of blocks-in-the-back, an interception and a fumble in the second half alone.

“Mistakes killed us,” head coach Ray Humphrey said. “We make the same mistakes that continue to kill our drives.”

The Knights narrowed the Sharks’ lead to two points when Konkol threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. The Sharks’ defense continued to impress during the third quarter, as the Knights could not find any openings to get the ball through. Malibu stayed ahead at 14-12 at the end of the quarter.

The Knights opened the fourth quarter with a rushing touchdown that put them up 18-14 with 11 minutes remaining in the contest. A field goal later in the quarter extended the Knights’ lead.

Malibu made a valiant attempt to win the game, but overall came up short after Konkol’s pass to sophomore receiver Brennan Cassone on the last play of the game fell incomplete.

“We need to stress mental focus in practice,” Humphrey said. “ [A lack of mental focus] is why we keep making all of these mistakes.”

The Sharks now have a record of 1-4-1 and look to improve their focus, get some injured players back and concoct a winning formula for their homecoming and first league game against Bishop Diego on Friday.

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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