2010 EAGLES

Servite 17 - Eagles 10

Servite sticks to formula, beats Santa Margarita

MISSION VIEJO, CA., November 5, 2010 – Servite's top-ranked football team did what it does best Friday night.

The Friars played tough defense and controlled the clock on offense in their Trinity League showdown against Santa Margarita.

The formula was good enough for another victory, and another championship.

Malik Felton rushed for 163 yards and a touchdown as Servite held off No. 3 Santa Margarita, 17-10, at Saddleback College to clinch as least a share of a sixth consecutive Trinity League championship. It also was the Friars' 20th consecutive victory.

"That's kind of what we have to do," Servite coach Troy Thomas said. "We've got to play good defense and not make mistakes offensively."

Santa Margarita quarterback Adam Young scored on a 1-yard sneak with 47 seconds left in the fourth. The extra point by John McGrory made it 17-10.

Servite's Daniel Tejeda recovered the onside kick but the Eagles (7-2, 3-1) forced Servite (9-0, 4-0) to punt.

Santa Margarita got the ball back at its 21 with 25 seconds left. The Eagles ran two plays and reached their 42 before time expired.

Thomas barked at his team before the second half to give "everything we've got," and the Friars needed all that energy to beat the Eagles.

"I knew," Thomas said. "Santa Margarita, they're back."

There were no turnovers in the game. Santa Margarita outgained Servite, 344 yards ï?¸ to 301.

"There's credibility in the Eagles," Santa Margarita coach Harry Welch said. "That's a great team we just played. ... I was very, very proud of my team."

Servite led 10-0 at halftime. Santa Margarita struck first in the second half as Young kicked a 27-yard field goal with 3:36 left in the third quarter.

Servite's defense did well to limit the Eagles to a field goal. Santa Margarita had moved from its 33 for a first-and-goal at the Friars 4 but was pushed back.

Two-way lineman Travis Averill recorded a sack for an 11-yard loss on third-and-goal and cornerback Karlton Dennis broke up a pass on fourth-and-goal.

After the field goal, the Friars responded with an 80-yard scoring drive, which actually covered 95 yards because of two holding penalties on Servite to open the drive.

Jody Thomas capped the 13-play trek with a 2-yard touchdown run as the Friars opened a 17-3 lead with 9:57 left in the fourth. The drive consumed 5:39 and provided a reminder that Servite can play consistent when it needs to.

"That's about the only way you can beat a Harry Welch-coached team," Thomas said. "Be very consistent."

One of the key plays on the drive was a third-and-17 conversion by the Friars. Quarterback Cody Pittman completed a 27-yard pass over the middle to Tejeda, who caught the ball in front of the Santa Margarita safety, who slipped coming up to make a play.

Servite scored on the opening possession of the game. Felton capped a 10-play, 80-yard drive by scoring on a 37-yard touchdown run with 8:30 left in the first. Felton started the season as a wide receiver but moved to running back because of injuries in the backfield.

Felton now has six rushing touchdowns in the Trinity League.

Santa Margarita responded with a long drive, moving from its 20 to the Friars' 15. But on fourth-and-9 from the 15, Santa Margarita elected not to attempt a field goal and go for it.

Young escaped a near sack on the fourth-down play but the Friars stopped him just shy of the first down.

"That's just my style," Welch said of the decision to go for it on fourth down. "We play to win, and I believe in the young men. ... I think it's fair to second guess me. ... But I believe in the kids and I try to give them the best opportunity for success."

On its third possession, Servite chewed up just over seven minutes before showcasing kicker Connor Loftus. The senior with scholarship offers from Boise State among others booted a 52-yard field goal to extend the Friars lead to 10-0 with 3:56 left in the second quarter. Loftus' kick slightly grazed the cross bar.

Santa Margarita responded with another solid drive, moving from its 20 to the Friars' 25. But Servite's defense again held. After a costly holding penalty on second down, Servite defensive lineman Troy Niklas recorded a sack. The Friars then forced a pair of incompletions.

In the fourth quarter, Santa Margarita drove for a first-and-10 at the Servite 24 but a pair of holding penalties move the back to their own 49.

"We obviously made a few too many mistakes but sometimes great football teams put you in such a situation that you make more mistakes than normal," Welch said. "Sincere tribute to Servite."

Butch Pauu of Servite and Colten Christensen of Santa Margarita also had sacks.

By Dan Albano
Saturday, November 6, 2010
The Orange County Register