Eagles 35 - St. Bonaventure 27

Santa Margarita survives tough test

MISSION VIEJO, CA., September 21, 2012 – Santa Margarita expected its toughest game Friday against fellow Pac-5 Division contender St. Bonaventure of Ventura.

The Eagles got the challenge, and plenty of the accompanying adversity.

But Orange County’s top-ranked team and running back Ryan Wolpin responded in the second half to collect a 35-27 victory at Saddleback College.

Wolpin helped seal the victory with a 50-yard touchdown run with 1:30 left that lifted the Eagles to the 35-27 lead.

The Santa Margarita defense applied the final touches less than a minute later. Hunter Graham recorded the first sack and Taylor Prenovost recovered the ensuing fumble for the Eagles (5-0), ranked No. 1 in the division and No. 3 in the nation by maxpreps. Santa Margarita’s defense earlier made a key stop on a 2-point conversion by the Seraphs (4-1) with 2:50 left.

Bruising running back Zack Green scored on a 6-yard touchdown to trim the Eagles’ lead to 28-27, but he was stopped on the conversion.

“We’ve had several weeks where we really haven’t needed to battle and tonight they were young, brave warriors,” Santa Margarita coach Harry Welch said of his team, which trailed at the half for the first time.

“It’s important they experience that and within their own hearts know that, ‘I can go toe-to-toe, I can go 12 rounds in a championship fight.’ This was like a championship fight.”

Wolpin stood tall at end, rushing for 195 yards and two TDs on 23 carries.

“He’s the heart and soul of our team,” Santa Margarita safety Connor O’Brien said of Wolpin.

St. Bonaventure, ranked fourth in the division, and smooth sophomore QB Ricky Town scored on its first three possessions in the first half. Town completed his first 13 passes and finished with 177 yards passing.

Santa Margarita’s offense found a rhythm early in the third quarter. After St. Bonaventure narrowly missed recovering an onside kick to open the second half, Stanton rolled to his right and tossed a 44-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Sweet as the Eagles tied the score, 21-21, with 9:54 left in the third.

The Eagles’ defense then forced their first punt and Stanton responded by leading a 63-yard scoring drive for the go-ahead score. In a play similar to his dramatic score in last season’s state Division 1 bowl game, Stanton leaped in from 1 yard out to give Santa Margarita a 28-21 lead with 2:23 left in the third.

Stanton made another big play early in the fourth. With the Eagles still leading, 28-21, and facing a third-and-8 from their 7, the Nebraska commit escaped a near safety and rushed for a first down to his 19. Stanton was later limping on the drive but stayed in the game.

Santa Margarita didn’t score but Stanton’s save against the safety loomed large as Green scored on a 6-yard touchdown run with 2:50 left in the fourth, cutting the Eagles’ lead to a point.

“We don’t play for moral victories,” St. Bonaventure coach Todd Therrien said. “We came down here to win the game. We didn’t win the game, so we’ve got some stuff to work on. … I don’t think anyone wants to play Santa Margarita or St. Bonaventure, for that matter.”

O’Brien was impressed St. Bonaventure went for the 2-point conversion and the lead.

“I give them a lot of credit,” he said. “They have a lot (guts) to go for that and we made a stop.”

Stanton rushed for 100 yards and also passed for 133. River Cracraft added five receptions for 83 yards for the Eagles.

Santa Margarita was coming off a 72-0 victory against Carson last week and a 55-0 victory against Trabuco Hills before that. But Friday was a much tougher challenge, especially considering the composure of Town.

“Part of football is you get down, you get up,” O’Brien said. “We fought back at them and got the win.”

Santa Margarita has a bye next week before opening the Trinity League against Servite at Saddleback College on Oct. 5.

Santa Margarita 14 0 14 7 35
St. Bonaventure 14 7 0 6 27

StB – Green 31 run (Kelly kick failed)
SM – Cracraft 12 run from Stanton (Ury kick)
StB – Green 3 run (Green run)
SM – Wolpin 1 run (Ury kick)
StB – Lee 3 pass from Town (Kelly kick)
SM – Sweet 44 pass from Stanton (Ury kick)
SM – Stanton 1 run (Ury kick)
StB – Green 6 run (Green run failed)
SM – Wolpin 50 run (Ury kick)

Rushing: SM - Stanton 15-100, Wolpin 23-196; StBo - Green 18-103, Chambers 10-46
Passing: SM - Stanton 7-11-0-133; StBo - Town 20-25-0-178
Receiving: SM - Cracraft 5-83, Sweet 2-50; StBo - Lee 4-69, Rodriguez 4-56


By Dan Albano
Saturday, September 22, 2012
The Orange County Register


Santa Margarita is a cut above St. Bonaventure in first-rate show

MISSION VIEJO, CA., September 21, 2012 – OMG, or “oh my God” if you have to spell it out, was the text message of the day coming out of Saddleback College on Friday night during a playoff-like football game between No. 1-ranked Santa Margarita and No. 3 Ventura St. Bonaventure.

Santa Margarita (5-0) pulled out a 35-27 victory that left participants from both sides feeling exhilarated just from what they saw and felt.

“They gave us everything we could handle and then some,” Santa Margarita Coach Harry Welch said. “They’re marvelous.”

Said St. Bonaventure Coach Todd Therrien: “It was billed as the top high school football game in America, and you can’t go wrong with these two programs.”

There was 6-foot-4 sophomore quarterback Ricky Town of St. Bonaventure completing his first 12 passes while eluding one Santa Margarita rusher after another. He finished 19 of 24 for 177 yards and one touchdown.

There was running back Zachary Green of St. Bonaventure dragging and running over Santa Margarita defenders en route to 103 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

There was senior quarterback Johnny Stanton of Santa Margarita rushing for 100 yards and one touchdown, passing for 132 yards and two touchdowns and making an unforgettable escape in the fourth quarter, turning a certain safety into a first-down run.

There was senior running back Ryan Wolpin of Santa Margarita rushing for 204 yards and scoring three touchdowns.

And there was a relieved Welch going into the St. Bonaventure huddle after the game to praise the Seraphs’ performance.

St. Bonaventure (4-1) showed no fear of the Eagles from start to finish. The Seraphs scored on their first three possessions to open a 21-14 halftime lead. Green had touchdown runs of 31 and three yards and Town fired a five-yard scoring pass to Montre Lee on fourth and goal.

But Santa Margarita came out in the third quarter and took command with consecutive scoring drives. Kyle Sweet caught a 44-yard touchdown pass from Stanton, and Stanton scored on a one-yard dive.

St. Bonaventure closed to 28-27 with 2:50 left on a six-yard touchdown run by Green. Then Therrien decided to go for the lead, but Green was stuffed on a two-point run attempt.

Wolpin’s 50-yard scoring run with 1:30 left gave the Eagles an eight-point lead. And then the Santa Margarita defense sacked Town for the first time, stripping away the ball with 47 seconds left.

St. Bonaventure standout defensive lineman Dalton Rocha was on the verge of sacking Stanton in the end zone with just over nine minutes left when Stanton got away and picked up a first down at the 19.

“You definitely have to hold on tight and wrap him up,” Rocha said of the 6-2, 220-pound Stanton.

It’s the dilemma every team left on Santa Margarita’s schedule will have to deal with — finding a way to stop Stanton & Co.

By Eric Sondheimer
Saturday, September 21, 2012
The Los Angeles Times