LOMPOC, Calif. - Santa Barbara used a fast start and a strong finish to outlast Lompoc 44-38 in a thrilling Channel League opener as the Dons run their winning streak to five games.
Santa Barbara jumped out to a 21-0 first quarter lead behind three touchdown passes by sophomore Abel Renteria who had a monster game.
The first two touchdown passes were to fellow sophomore Winston Bartely.
On his second score Bartely took a bubble screen pass and raced nearly 50-yards past the struggling Braves defense.
Following an interception by Makai Trimble, Santa Barbara struck again.
Renteria fired a 19-yard touchdown pass to a diving Trent Williams and it looked like the Dons were going to blow out the Braves.
But Lompoc rallied back behind their explosive offense.
Cavin Ross threw a short touchdown pass to Nelson Maldonado to get the Braves going.
The PAT was missed though and Lompoc trailed 21-6 after the first quarter.
Following a Dons short field goal, Lompoc struck again as San Diego State commit Sheldon Canley raced 23-yards for a touchdown.
The Braves converted the 2-point conversion and trailed 24-14 at the half.
Santa Barbara got a huge game from Renteria who used his legs in the second half to hold Lompoc off.
He scored on an 18-yard run to put Santa Barbara up 31-17 with under five minutes left in the third quarter.
But the Braves kept answering back.
Ross connected with Maldonado again for a touchdown and Lompoc trailed 31-24 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Braves finally caught the Dons behind a gutsy, trick play.
On fourth and seven from the Dons 11 Lompoc did a reverse and Idaho State commit Deville Dickerson passed it to Maldonaldo for his third touchdown of the game to tie it at 31 with just under ten minutes left.
Renteria carried the load for the Dons.
He ran for two more touchdowns to put Santa Barbara up 44-31 with just over two minutes to go.
Renteria had 3 td passes and 3 rushing scores as he accounted for all six Dons touchdowns.
Lompoc scored with 1:26 left on Ross' third touchdown pass of the game but the Dons recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.
Santa Barbara is now 5-1 on the year while the Braves have dropped three straight games and fall to 3-3.
The Dons host Pacifica next Friday while Lompoc is at Rio Mesa.
Friday Football Focus has more highlights of this game tonight starting at 11:10 on KEYT NewsChannel 3-12.