Eagles 28 - Lakewood 13

LAKEWOOD, CA., September 21, 2001 – Marshall Tharpe threw four touchdown passes, including two to Ashton White, as the Eagles overcame five turnovers to post a workmanlike 28-13 win over the Lakewood Lancers before 3,000 in a non-league contest at John Ford Stadium on the campus of Lakewood High School. The win improved the Eagles to 2-0-1 and not only gave the Eagles important momentum heading into a homecoming battle with Norco, but demonstrated for the second consecutive week that the Eagles can beat Division I teams on the road.

The score was not indicative of how one-sided the game actually was. Tharpe, whose scoring tosses were the first of his career, was effective most of the night completing 10 of 16 passes for 166 yards and rushing for 21 more; however, his two interceptions in Lancer territory along with three uncharacteristic turnovers by the running backs and nine penalties were reasons the Eagles scored only four touchdowns and could not put Lakewood away for good.

Lakewood (0-2) struck first by recovering a pooched kickoff at the Eagle 33. On third-and 11 a deflected pass was converted into a 30-yard gain setting up Jason Leggett's four-yard scoring run just 1:38 into the game. The Eagles then drove to the Lancer 33 on only six plays, but the drive stalled when Tharpe was stopped short of a first down on a fourth-and-two run. On Lakewood's next drive White intercepted his first pass of the season and returned it 33 yards to the Lancer 42. On second down, Tharpe found Travis Widner for what should have been a first down; however, the senior was stripped of the ball where the Lancers recovered on their 28. After a short Lancer punt, the Eagles needed just three plays to tie the score as Tharpe found White alone down the left sideline for a 37-yard scoring pass. On the ensuing Lancer drive White muffed a punt return setting Lakewood up at the Eagle 39. Santa Margarita's defense, which has been improving each week, caused the Lancers to lose 18 yards on three plays to force another punt. The Eagles then put together a nice drive going 43 yards on five plays highlighted by White's 25-yard run and capped by his 11-yard scoring reception with 7:17 left in the half to put the Eagles up for good 13-7. With the score, Ashton, who finished with 124 yards rushing, posted his third consecutive game with at least two touchdowns and 100 yards rushing. The Eagles had one more opportunity to score at the end of the half after Trevor Zinn blocked a Lancer punt, but a 37-yard field goal by Jason Graban was wide right as time expired.

At the start of the second half the Eagles used a balanced attack of three runs and three passes to go 75-yards on six plays to take a 21-7 lead. Highlighting the drive were 22 and 17-yard receptions by Dustin Slinkard - the latter of which set up a first-and-goal where Tharpe hit Renny Jackson from nine-yards out at the 7:19 mark for his first career touchdown. Tharpe's two-point conversion pass to Jeff Prenovost was good. Santa Margarita wasted little time in extending their lead by going on a four-play 58-yard drive set up by two 15-yard runs by White and capped by a 19-yard scoring strike from Tharpe to junior Bobby Whithorne at the 4:49 mark of the third quarter to build the lead to 28-7. From there the Eagle defense allowed only four first downs and two pass completions although one of which was converted into a 37-yard score.

Despite the seemingly inconsistent performance several good things emerged. The Eagles blocked a punt, partially blocked another, blocked an extra point, registered four sacks, recorded ten tackles for loss, posted season highs for yards gained and first downs and did not punt until the end of the third quarter. Defensively, Prenovost led the charge with a career-high 15 tackles to earn Defensive Player of the Game honors while senior LB Kyle Rutenbar added 10 and sophomore sensation DT Matt Rupp added 8 including a sack.

Santa Margarita 7 6 15 0 28
Lakewood 7 0 0 6 13

LAK – Leggett 4 run (kick good)
SM – White 37 pass from Tharpe (kick good)
SM – White 11 pass from Tharpe (kick failed)
SM – Jackson 9 pass from Tharpe (Prenovost pass from Tharpe)
SM – Whithorne 19 pass from Tharpe (kick good)
LAK – Brown 37 pass from Porter

Rushing: SM - White 21-143
Passing: SM - Tharpe 10-16-2-166
Receiving: SM - White 2-48


By Adrian Peters
Sports Information Director


Lancers Tough In Loss

Lakewood Takes Early Lead, Battles Highly Ranked Santa Margarita Well Before Coming Up Short

LAKEWOOD – Things didn't go quite as expected at Lakewood High on Friday night, meaning highly touted Santa Margarita didn't walk all over the Lancers. In fact, Lakewood gave the Eagles about all they could handle before losing 28-13 in a nonleague game.

"We had our chances," Lakewood coach Michael Christensen said. "We had opportunities, but we're a young team and we just don't know how to finish them yet."

Lakewood (0-2) surprised the Eagles, who are ranked No. 12 in the nation by USA Today, from the start, recovering an onside kick to begin the game. Four plays later, junior tailback Jason Leggett (26 rushes, 79 yards) scampered in from 4 yards out to give the Lancers a 7-0 lead.

But the Lancers couldn't take advantage of a pair of fumble recoveries and a Greg Delong interception and went into halftime trailing 13-7.

Santa Margarita (2-0-1) built its lead on the versatility of junior tailback Ashton White, who finished with 143 yards on 21 carries and caught 37and 11-yard touchdown passes from quarterback Marshall Tharpe.

Lakewood suffered a setback just before halftime when senior nose guard Kevin Hardimann was ejected, leaving the Lancers without their best player for the rest of the game and possibly another.

"It was a huge loss for us," said Christensen, who was unsure of why Hardimann was kicked out of the game.

With Hardimann out, the Eagles took over in the third quarter, taking a 28-7 lead on two more touchdown passes by Tharpe (10 for 16, 150 yards, 2 interceptions), one each to Renny Jackson and Bobby Whithorne.

Meanwhile, the Lancers' offense stalled, failing to get a first down in the second quarter and through most of the third. So, Damion Porter relieved starter Gary Esnayra at quarterback, and it wasn't long after that the offense began to click again.

With five seconds left in the third quarter, Porter (2 for 4, 49 yards, 8 carries for 44 yards) hit Michael Brown with a 37-yard touchdown strike to cut the deficit to 28-13. Ellis Powers picked off a pass and Steven Akarim recovered a fumble on the Eagles' next two possessions, but Lakewood was unable to score again.

By Writer
Saturday, September 22, 2001
Long Beach Press-Telegram - B4