Last Friday night’s matchup against North Torrance began with a boost of adrenaline for the Peninsula High football team, before things took a sour turn.
Brandon Smith came up with a pair of first-quarter turnovers before the Panthers were unable to sustain their momentum, losing to North 28-21.
"We need to get back to basics," Peninsula coach Dave Young said. "Our losses have come as a result of our team not making plays and carrying over the fundamentals from practice."
It wasn't just fundamentals that bit Peninsula (1-4) in the rear - it was penalties that either killed Panther momentum or extended Saxon drives.
Tied at 7 early in the second quarter, Peninsula was flagged for a 15-yard personal foul, and four plays later, North tailback Stephen Bradford gave the Saxons a 14-7 lead.
After falling behind 21-14 late in the second quarter, it appeared that Jack Haworth hit wideout Anthony Rosato streaking up the sideline. But the referee ruled Rosato had stepped out before catching the ball, ruling him an ineligible receiver.
"We talk about it all the time: facing adversity comes with the game, and it's how you react to it that's important," Young said. "We've been on the wrong side of penalties this year, and it's hurt us in each of the first five games."
Late in the third quarter with North facing third down-and-seven from the Panther 42-yard-line, quarterback Trevor Lagarde heaved a throw that two Peninsula defenders were unable to knock down, as North receiver Denzel Alexander found himself in an opportune spot for the 35-yard completion.
Three plays later, North took a 28-14 lead.
Peninsula tailbacks Ryan Glover and Nima Afshar helped carry the load behind an offensive line that Young is still looking for consistency from. Glover racked up 87 yards and a TD, while Afshar gained 51 yards while Glover tended to an unspecified lower body injury in the second half.
"Our offensive line needs to communicate and rely on their fundamentals," Young said. "If this improves our offense will find its flow."
Haworth was sacked twice, and pressured multiple other times, while Peninsula was held to zero or negative yards on nine plays.
Young will look for the Panthers to clean things up heading into the bye week before hosting Leuzinger next Friday, Oct. 4 at home.
That game is marked on many calendars for a number of reasons.
Not only do three players become eligible to play for Peninsula (Ricardo Punsalan, Dylan Thomas and Connor Krock), but the Panthers will be hosting a night game.
"Everyone is excited for this game, and the opportunity to play under the lights is a special one," Young said.
Oct. 4 will mark the fourth time Peninsula has hosted a night game, and the first time in the last 10 years.