Eagles 21 - Loyola 14

MISSION VIEJO, CA., October 19, 2001 – Santa Margarita forced three turnovers and blocked a punt, and Marshall Tharpe threw two touchdown passes as the Eagles registered an impressive 21-14 win over the previously unbeaten and nationally ranked Loyola Cubs before a capacity crowd of 5,000 at Saddleback College. The win improved the Eagles record to 5-1-1, and marked the third time in ten games that they have defeated a benchmark Division I program 21-14, while the Cubs fell to 5-1.

On the opening drive, the Cubs moved to the Eagle 44 on a mix of runs and passes, but Johnnie Walker forced a fumble on a run by Bo Renaud which was recovered by Jeff Prenovost at the 43. The Eagles wasted little time going on a seven-play, 57 yard scoring drive highlighted by 22-and 17-yard completions from Tharpe to Bobby Whithorne and Dustin Slinkard respectively. On third-and-goal from the 12, Tharpe eluded two tacklers in the backfield before hitting a wide-open Lief Nylander at the goalline for a 7-0 lead at the 6:51 mark.

The Cubs responded by going on a 10-play, 80-yard drive which ended with QB Adam Gonzalez's 1-yard sneak with 2:30 left in the quarter to tie the score at seven. The defenses took over from there for most of the second quarter. The Eagles managed one first down before punting, and on the Cub's next offensive play Cole DeVitis forced a fumble which was returned 12 yards by Thomas Cappelletti giving the Eagles a first down at their 45. However, Santa Margarita couldn't capitalize and punted back to Loyola. After sacks by Mike Leiter and Matt Rupp the Cubs were forced into a punting situation where Whithorne raced in and blocked the punt that was recovered by Chase McWhorter and returned to the Cub 21. Two plays later Tharpe hit Whithorne on a screen pass which was converted into a 19-yard catch-and-run Td giving the Eagles a 14-7 lead with 4:21 left in the half. The Cubs mounted a 13-play drive at the end of the half that ended in a missed field goal.

The Eagles moved into Cub territory on their first drive of the second half before the drive stalled. Nylander's punt was downed at the Loyola 15 where they proceeded to go on an 18-play, 85-yard scoring drive that took nearly nine minutes off the clock to tie the score at 14-14. The key play for the Cubs was a 25-yard run by Renaud on third down which took them out of a third and 25 situation on their own 23 and set up a fourth-and-inches on the 48 which was converted into a first down by Chad Slapnicka. Nine plays later Renaud (16 carries for 107 yards) scored from 18 yards out.

Santa Margarita's next drive stalled at the Eagle 44 and Nylander's career-long 56-yard punt could not be downed before rolling into the endzone. On fourth-and-one from the 29 the Cubs elected to punt, and Ashton White returned it 17 yards to the Cub 43. White, who did not play in the first half, carried twice for eight yards and after a holding call, Tharpe's pass as DeVitis gave the Eagles a third-and-two at the 35. White (13 carries for 53 yards) then broke off a 20-yard run to give his team a first down at the 15. Three plays later, White broke a tackle and raced around right end to put the Eagles ahead 21-14 with 5:37 left. (White's touchdown was his 10th on the season and marked the seventh consecutive season that an Eagle had rushed for at least 10 in a season.)

On the second play of Loyola's next drive White intercepted a pass by Gonzalez at the Eagle 48 and returned it to the Cub 30 with just under 5:00 left. The Cubs, without timeouts, and desperately in need of a defensive stop could not contain the Eagles on this night as Tharpe hit Whithorne on another screen pass with 2:27 left on fourth down and five effectively ending the game. The Cubs did manage to regain possession on their 26 with 20 seconds left but another sack by Rupp put an exclamation point on the win.

Rupp's 2.5 sacks, sophomore LB Jack Meehan's 13 tackles and Cappelletti's eight tackles and fumble recovery led the defensive charge. Leiter finished with 1.5 sacks and Prenovost recorded 10 tackles to go along with his fumble recovery to help lead the way. White's streak of six consecutive games with at least two touchdowns came to an end but his all around play (rushing Td, key third-down run, sack and interception) in limited action made the difference. Tharpe continued his red-hot ways completing 13 of 16 passes for 131 yards to up his season completion percentage to 68.5%. He has also thrown 80 consecutive passes without an interception.

Santa Margarita 7 7 0 7 21
Loyola 7 0 7 0 14

SM – Nylander 12 pass from Tharpe (kick good)
LOY – Gonzalez 1 run (kick good)
SM – Withorne 19 pass from Tharpe (kick good)
LOY – Renaud 18 run (kick good)
SM – White 7 run (kick good)

Rushing: SM - White 13-51; LOY - Renaud 16-107, Gonzalez 18-49
Passing: SM - Tharpe 13-16-131; LOY - Gonzalez 14-19-154
Receiving: Withorne 6-74; LOY - Renaud 5-38, Koplin 4-51


By Adrian Peters
Sports Information Director