Eagles 35 - Trabuco Hills 14

Santa Margarita, Wolpin run over Trabuco Hills

MISSION VIEJO, CA., September 15, 2011 – Santa Margarita’s defense turned in another strong effort and Ryan Wolpin tied a school record with four rushing touchdowns to lead the No. 3 Eagles past host Trabuco Hills, 35-14, in a non-league game Thursday.

The Eagles (3-0) intercepted four first-half passes, leading to 14 points in schools’ first meeting since 2003.

Wolpin, a junior, finished with 127 yards on 19 carries, including touchdowns of 1, 2, 1 and 34 yards. He also added 43 receiving yards as the Eagles improved to 6-2 all-time against the Mustangs (2-1).

Trabuco Hills running back Mitchell Simonsen, a senior, almost matched Wolpin by rushing for 111 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries.

Santa Margarita coach Harry Welch wasn’t pleased with his or his team’s performance. The Eagles were coming off an 39-7 victory against Tesoro but Trabuco Hills pushed them into the fourth quarter Thursday.

“We're still resting on our laurels of beating Tesoro,” Welch said. “We didn’t play with style. That was very, very disappointing. It’s how you live, not what the scoreboard said.”

Welch also was critical of himself, saying, "I didn't do a very good job today. I wasn't a very good leader."

Simonsen dove in for a 1-yard touchdown on fourth-and-goal with 24 seconds left in the third as the Mustangs’ trimmed the Eagles’ lead to 28-14.

Simonsen's score capped a 16-play, 81-yard drive that chewed up 7:59 and featured a successful fake-punt play from the Mustangs' 36.

"I knew we were going to run it," Trabuco Hills coach Scott Orloff said of the fake, which featured Nathan Perry completing a 27-yard pass to Garrett Hartman. "I even told our principal (Craig Collins)."

But Santa Margarita forced a three-and-out on the Mustangs’ next possession, setting up the Eagles with a short field. Wolpin capitalized three plays later by breaking a 34-yard touchdown run with 5:57 left to cap the scoring.

He became the seventh Santa Margarita player to rush for four touchdowns in a game and first since Trevor Brooks in 2007.

Santa Margarita led, 21-7, at halftime. Cornerback Reid Andrew gave the Eagles the cushion on a 26-yard interception return for a score with 2:03 left in the second quarter.

Andrew’s second interception came on the same possession that Trabuco Hills lost quarterback Jonathan Newsom to an injury. Newsom left with 4:39 left in the half with a biceps injury after scrambling up field to avoid the Eagles rush, Orloff said. The senior was replaced by Perry, who played well after the interception.

Orloff said Newsom might have been able to return but the coach wasn't going to risk further injury.

Welch was impressed with Trabuco Hills.

"They lost their quarterback and they played with creativity and enthusiasm," he said.

Santa Margarita opened a 7-0 lead on its first possession thanks to an 11-play, 79-yard drive that Wolpin ended with a 1-yard touchdown run.

The Eagles then turned Reid’s first interception — a diving grab off a deflection at the Mustangs’ 38 — into a 2-yard touchdown run by Wolpin with 1:29 left in the first period. Trabuco Hills responded when Simonsen broke a 49-yard touchdown run early in the second to cut the Eagles’ lead to 14-7.

Santa Margarita intercepted four passes in the first half. And besides the 49-yard run by Simonsen, the unit played tough. The Eagles have allowed 21 points in three games and racked up three more sacks to give them 15 on the season.

Trabuco Hills’ Matt Kirkland also intercepted two passes in the first half.

Neither team committed a turnover in the second half.

"We knew coming in we couldn't make mistakes," Orloff said. "But there were a lot of positives. ... This was a step for us."

Orloff counted the two-way play of Simonsen among the positives. "Mitchell is a warrior," the coach said.

Next week, Santa Margarita plays at Carson while Trabuco Hills plays host to JSerra.

Santa Magarita 14 7 7 7 35
Trabuco Hills 0 7 7 0 14

SM – Wolpin 1 run (McGrory kick)
SM – Wolpin 2 run (McGrory kick)
TH – Simonsen 49 run (Nguyen kick)
SM – Andrew 26 interception return (McGrory kick)
SM – Wolpin 1 run (McGrory kick)
TH – Simonsen 1 run (Nguyen kick)
SM – Wolpin 34 run (McGrory kick)

Rushing: SM - Wolpin 19-127, Wuchesk 7-84; TH - Simonsen 21-111, Hartman 4-4
Passing: SM - Stanton 11-19-2-118; TH - Newsom 3-9-3-32, Perry 5-10-1-63
Receiving: SM - Cracraft 4-26, Wolpin 3-43, Modster 3-46; TH - Hoover 2-20, Hartman 1-27

By Dan Albano
Thursday, September 15, 2011
The Orange County Register