Eagles 21 - Los Alamitos 14

LONG BEACH, CA., September 13, 2001 – Ashton White rushed for 122 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries, including the go ahead score with 10:42 remaining, then forced a fumble and recovered it on the Eagle 7 with only 1:20 left to lead the 21st ranked Santa Margarita Eagles to an emotional 21-14 win over the Los Alamitos Griffins (1-1) at Long Beach Veteran's Stadium. The win avenged last years 21-14 loss to the Griffins, which coincidently also ended with the losing team deep inside the opponents territory, and improved the Eagles record to 1-0-1.

The Griffins, ranked 2nd in Orange County and 3rd in CIF-SS Division I, got off to a fast start driving 61 yards on eight plays to take a 7-0 lead at the 4:19 mark of the first quarter on the strength of a 19-yard Td pass from Tim Bessolo to Brandon Tripp. The Eagles drove 47 yards to the Griffin 33 at the end of the first quarter, but Marshall Tharpe's pass intended for Jason Graban was intercepted at the Los Al 12 to end the Eagle threat. The Eagle defense picked up the slack for the offense and adjusted quickly to the Griffin's shotgun offense. They limited Los Al to only 100 yards on 30 plays and six three-and-outs over their next eight possessions including the first drive on the second quarter where sophomore Joe Ramsey blocked a punt that was recovered by Cole Devitis on the Griffin 3. This set up Tharpe's one-yard Td run at the 9:25 mark to tie the score at 7-7. After an exchange of punts, senior CB Trevor Zinn intercepted a Bessolo pass at the Griffin 49. A 28-yard run by Tharpe (8 of 12 for 61 yards) and three runs by White moved the Eagles to the Griffin 16 before the drive stalled and Graban's 37-yard field goal with 1:58 left in the half came up short.

In the second half, the Griffins capitalized on a short Eagle punt and drove 47-yards on five plays capped by Quinton Jones' 27-yard Td run at the 6:28 mark to retake the lead at 14-7. The Eagles needed only 44 seconds to tie the score as White's 73-yard kickoff return and 20-yard run gave the Eagles a first-and-goal at the Griffin 6. On the next play White took it over himself to tie the game at 14-14. After a Griffin punt, the Eagles marched 73 yards on 10 plays highlighted by a 22-yard completion from Tharpe to Bobby Whithorne (seven receptions) and two key third down conversion runs by White to move to the Los Al 8 where Ashton scored the go-ahead Td at the 10:42 mark to put the Eagles ahead for good at 21-14. With 5:48 left the Griffins went on an 11-play, 84-yard drive highlighted by a 40-yard run by Joe Garcia where they faced a 2nd and goal at the Eagle seven. On the ensuing play, White stripped Bessolo of the ball and recovered the fumble himself to preserve the hard fought victory.

Defensively, the Eagles registered eight tackles for loss, four sacks, three forced fumbles and two turnovers. They limited Bessolo to only 111 yards passing only one week after the senior standout passed for 425. Leading the charge were White (five tackles, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery), Zinn (nine tackles and one interception) and sophomore defensive tackle Matt Rupp (five tackles, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble).

Santa Margarita 0 7 7 7 21
Los Alamitos 7 0 7 0 14

LA – Tripp 19 pass from Bessolo (Gamarnick kick)
SM – Tharpe 1 run (Graben kick)
LA – Jones 27 run (Gamarnick kick)
SM – White 6 run (Graben kick)
SM – White 7 run (Graben kick)

Rushing: SM - White 26-122, Tharpe 6-35; LA - Bessolo 11-36, Jones 7-35
Passing: SM - Tharpe 8-13-1-69; LA - Bessolo 10-14-1-124
Receiving: SM - Whithorne 6-52, Nylander 1-4; LA - Tripp 5-69, Jones 4-38


By Adrian Peters
Sports Information Director