SANTA ANA — Out of the mouths of babes--and over-exuberant football fans--fall words that should be left unspoken. Take the remark made by a Saddleback partisan early in the third quarter Thursday night after the Roadrunners took a nine-point lead over highly regarded Tustin.
"So that's the No. 4-ranked team in the county, huh?" he said.
Yep. The Tillers scored the final 21 points to prove it and won the Sea View League game, 33-21, at Santa Ana Stadium.
But it indeed wasn't an easy task for Tustin (8-0, 3-0 in league), which had to crawl back to register its 18th consecutive league victory and 21st in 22 games overall. And it wasn't an easy game for Tustin Coach Marijon Ancich to watch. He looked drained afterward, but then again, that's about standard.
"It took us a long time to get ourselves together and play some football," Ancich said.
Although they jumped to a 6-0 lead after one quarter on 19-yard pass from quarterback Jon Miller to tight end Nick Cantu, the Tiller defense couldn't prevent Saddleback from scoring, even though the Roadrunners attempted only 16 plays from scrimmage and had the ball a mere 7 minutes 51 seconds in the first half.
Saddleback (2-5-1, 1-2) took a 7-6 lead on a five-yard halfback option pass from Adolfo Ornelas to Luis Estrella midway through the second period. And after a 41-yard pass from Miller to wide receiver Ronnie Hall put Tustin ahead, 12-7, the Roadrunners answered with a 74-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Danny Ruvolo to wide receiver Sal Aguilar with 2:07 left in the half.
The Roadrunners made it 21-12 when Larry Maruffo returned Tustin's second-half kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown.
"I said nothing more could go wrong after that," Ancich said. "That was the last straw."
It also was the last noise made by Saddleback. The Tustin offensive line took over at that point, pushing Saddleback's defensive line seemingly at will and providing ample running room for fullback Keith Thomas (60 rushing yards for the game, 42 and two touchdowns in the second half) and tailback Jason Powell (43 rushing yards in second half).
The two running backs carried the rushing load for the Tillers because Maurice Fletcher, their premier back, played only sparingly because of tender quadriceps. He still ran for 40 yards in six carries.
Both quarterbacks had excellent games. Ruvolo passed for 158 yards and Miller for 144.