Malibu comes up short in Homecoming game

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Malibu quarterback Dylan LuBell hurdles a player from Ribet Academy last Friday during a 22-7 Homecoming defeat.

Before a large and boisterous home crowd, Malibu High School came out and played inspired football on Homecoming night but could not pull out the victory in a 22-7 loss to Ribet Academy last Friday night.

The second Homecoming game under the new stadium lights was truly a tale of two halves. The Sharks (0-4) started strong behind a stingy defense highlighted by junior Justin Baldinger (three interceptions) and a massive effort by sophomore Alec Stevenson, who finished with a staggering 28 tackles in the game. A balanced offensive thrust on the Sharks’ opening drive helped MHS take a 7-0 lead into halftime, during which the Homecoming festivities kicked into high gear. But some unfortunate mental mistakes and a strong ground game from the visiting Ribet Fighting Frogs wore down the hosts in the second.

After holding Ribet Academy on downs in Sharks territory on the opening drive of the game, Malibu took over on its own 38-yard line for its first offensive possession. The Sharks proceeded to keep the visiting Fighting Frogs off balance with a good mixture of runs and passes.

Junior running back Justin Baldinger ran for 31 yards, including gains of 10 and 13. Then quarterback Dylan Lubell connected with Dylan Miller for a 16-yard reception to set up MHS with a first-and-10 at the Ribet 14-yard line.

After Baldinger scooted for five yards on first down, Lubell found a wide-open Miller for a nine-yard touch down pass to give Malibu a 7-0 lead with 3:59 remaining in the first quarter.

The Sharks drove 62 yards in 10 plays in the impressive scoring drive.

Early in the second quarter, Malibu almost doubled its lead when Baldinger, playing defense, intercepted an errant pass and returned it 28 yards to the Ribet Academy nine yard line. But then the mistakes started to pile up. An illegal use of the hands on the return pushed the ball back to the 19. A subsequent holding penalty and a sack by the Fighting Frogs further pushed Malibu back in the opposite direction. Ultimately, the Sharks turned it over on downs with no points to show for.

Throughout the first half, Malibu’s lead held up as the Sharks defense shut down any offensive progress by Ribet Academy. Sophomore linebacker Alec Stevenson made multiple tackles, including a crucial stop for a three-yard loss on third-and-seven from the Malibu 33 with 1:04 remaining.

Baldinger then snagged his second interception to close out the half.

Second half

Defense was the king fish for Malibu in the first half but roles reversed for the two teams once the third quarter began.

“We started making mental mistakes in the second half,” said Stevenson. “We just didn’t keep on fighting.”

The second stanza was all Ribet Academy as the visitors dominated the line of scrimmage and ran at will, scoring two touchdowns in the third and one in the fourth to take control of the contest. Fighting Frogs tail back Andrew Morales rushed for more than 100 yards in the final two quar ters against a porous and tired Sharks defense. Morales finished with 188 yards on 29 carries.

Early in the third, Morales capped off a Ribet drive with a two-yard touch down run, then ran for a two-point conversion to give the Frogs their first lead at 8-7. With 5:16 left in the third quarter, an 80-yard punt return by the visitors made it 14-7. They added an insurance touchdown late in the game to close out the scoring.

After winning the first half, Sharks players said they were disappointed with their offensive output of 23 yards in the second half and the overall performance.

“It’s always a bummer when you come out and win the first half and don’t win the game,” said Baldinger, who finished with three interceptions and 60 yards rushing on offense. “It’s kind of a shame. Even though we were still in the game, we could have won. But we got down on ourselves.”

Malibu next hosts Santa Clara on Friday night at 6:30 p.m. as Frontier League action begins.

“We are looking forward to league,” said Stevenson. “This doesn’t matter. We are 0-0 right now.”