Eagles 38 - Los Alamitos 27

No. 3 Santa Margarita soars past Los Alamitos

LONG BEACH, CA., September 29, 2011 – Santa Margarita concluded the non-league portion of its schedule with one more victory than it had in non-league games last year.

Now, the Eagles will see if they can get one more league victory than they had last year.

Santa Margarita goes into Trinity League play with plenty of momentum following a 38-27 victory over Los Alamitos in the final 2011 non-league game for both teams Thursday at Veterans Stadium.

The Eagles, ranked No. 3 in Orange County and in the CIF-Southern Section's Pac-5 Division, won all five of its non-league games. Last year, Santa Margarita went 4-1 in non-league, with that loss coming to Tesoro – a loss the Eagles avenged this year. And the Eagles went 4-1 in the Trinity League, with that loss coming to Servite – a loss the Eagles sure would like to avenge this year when they play the Friars on Nov. 11, the final evening of the regular season.

Santa Margarita has a bye next week before opening Trinity League play on Oct. 13 against Mater Dei at Santa Ana Stadium.

Los Alamitos, ranked No. 8 in the county, went 4-1 in its non-league games. The Griffins had won its first four games by an average margin of 40 points a game and had averaged 51 points a game against teams that were a combined 5-10 coming into this week.

Los Alamitos has a bye next week before playing Edison in a Sunset League opener on Oct. 13 at Huntington Beach High.

Santa Margarita senior running back Ryan Wolpin rushed for 206 yards and two touchdowns on 35 carries. Eagles senior quarterback Johnny Stanton rushed for 132 yards and two touchdowns, including one on a 52-yard run, on 24 carries.

Santa Margarita senior kicker John McGrory was 5 for 5 on extra-point kicks, making him 85 for 85 for his high school career. McGrory broke the Orange County and CIF-SS records for consecutive PAT kicks Thursday when he kicked his 82nd in a row. Mitch Murar had set the county record of 81, and grabbed a share of the CIF-SS record, when kicking for Trabuco Hills in 2009.

Los Alamitos running back Cody Paul rushed for 136 yards, 72 of them on a long touchdown run on his first carry of the game.

Last year, Santa Margarita beat Los Alamitos in a non-league game, 31-7.

Los Alamitos took a quick 7-0 lead only 13 seconds into the game. On the Griffins' second play from scrimmage, Paul, a 5-foot-9 running back, bounced off two Santa Margarita tacklers in the backfield before sprinting 72 yards for a touchdown.

Santa Margarita tied the game on its first possession. The Eagles marched 65 yards on nine plays, with that ninth play a 1-yard run through a hole on the right side by quarterback Johnny Stanton.

The Griffins scored quickly again to take a 14-7 lead. Los Alamitos senior quarterback Dylan Lagarde threw a pass to Joshua Caiquo took a pass over the middle for a 61-yard TD.

The high-scoring first quarter continued as Santa Margarita put together a 10-play, 74-yard drive. Wolpin capped it with a 5-yard touchdown run, tying the game, 14-14, with 2:47 left in the quarter.

Santa Margarita soon took the lead for good. After Los Alamitos punted – the game's first punt – Stanton took a quarterback draw 52 yards for a touchdown. That put Santa Margarita on top, 21-14, with 57 seconds to go in the first quarter.

The Eagles' drive-creating prowess continued in the second quarter. Starting at their 12-yard line with 2:38 left in the half, the Eagles covered 88 yards on 11 plays, with Stanton crossing the goal line on a 3-yard run to make it 28-14.

McGrory kicked a 27-yard field goal to push the Eagles' lead to 31-14.

A 1-yard Wolpin touchdown run made it 38-14. Los Alamitos scored the game's final two touchdowns, first on a 7-yard run by Paul with 4:44 left in the game, and after the Griffins recovered a fumble deep in Santa Margarita territory, they scored again on a 7-yard pass from Lagarde to Kyle Roberts.

Roberts had five receptions for 46 yards.

Santa Margarita 21 7 3 7 38
Los Alamitos 14 0 0 13 27

LA – Paul 72 run (Beighton kick)
SM – Stanton 1 run (McGrory kick)
LA – Caiguo 61 pass from Lagarde (Beighton kick)
SM – Wolpin 5 run (McGrory kick)
SM – Stanton 52 run (McGrory kick)
SM – Stanton 3 run (McGrory kick)
SM – McGrory 27 FG
SM – Wolpin 1 run (McGrory kick)
LA – Paul 7 run (Lagarde pass failed)
LA – Roberts 7 pass from Lagarde (Beighton kick)

Rushing: LA - Paul 17-136, Caiguo 3-77, Locher 1-0, Stanton 24-161, Wolpin 25-216
Passing: LA - Lagarde 12-25-1-158; SM - Stanton 10-15-0-122
Receiving: LA - Roberts 5-46, Caiguo 1-61; SM - Modster 3-42, Mendoza 3-53

By Steve Fryer
Friday, September 29, 2011
The Orange County Register