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Saddleback Rolls to Keep Playoff Hopes Alive


NEWPORT BEACH — Jerry Witte, Saddleback High School's football coach, stood at midfield Thursday night, lit his victory cigarette and declared, " Now we're playing for something."

Saddleback kept its Southern Section playoff hopes alive with a 30-7 Sea View League victory over Corona del Mar at Newport Harbor High School.

The Roadrunners (3-5-1, 2-2 in league) stopped a two-game losing streak and moved into playoff contention.

Saddleback trails Tustin (8-0, 3-0), Newport Harbor (5-3, 2-1) and Woodbridge (4-2-1, 1-1-1) in the league race, and the Roadrunners play at University (4-4, 1-2) in the season finale next Friday. The top three teams in each league qualify for the playoffs.

"If we win next week, we should be in," Witte said. "Usually, a 3-2 (league) record will get you in, unless something crazy happens."

Saddleback quarterback Danny Ruvulo overcame a slow start and threw two touchdown passes that put the Roadrunners ahead, 14-0. Ruvulo, a 5-foot-9, 155-pound sophomore, threw four consecutive incomplete passes and was intercepted early in the second quarter, but he finished seven for 14 passing for 124 yards.

"Danny was trying to make his passes too soft early," Witte said. "It's like missing a three-inch putt. He just wasn't hitting it right. We just told him to throw it right into the chest of his receivers."

Ruvulo's first touchdown pass was eight yards to George Arceo that gave the Roadrunners a 7-0 lead with 8 minutes 18 seconds remaining in the second quarter. He also threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to running back Luis Estrella that pushed the lead to 14-0 with 3:53 left in the third quarter.

Adolfo Ornelas scored Saddleback's third unanswered touchdown on a one-yard run with 11:12 left in the fourth quarter.

A one-yard touchdown run by Corona del Mar's Ryan Steelberg cut the deficit to 21-7 with 7:02 left, but Saddleback got the ball back on the Corona del Mar 42-yard line after the Sea Kings unsuccessfully attempted an onside kick.

Estrella then capped a nine-play drive with his second touchdown, an 11-yard run up the middle that gave Saddleback a 28-7 lead.

The Roadrunners' final score came when Corona del Mar's Tom Hess caught the ensuing kickoff on the Sea King two, then backed into the end zone and downed it for a safety.

Although Estrella and Ornelas did all the scoring, the Roadrunners' workhorse was running back Steve Williams, who finished with 100 yards rushing in 22 carries.

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