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No. 7 Esperanza Stuns Top-Ranked Mater Dei, 33-7 : Upset: Aztec defense dominates the Monarchs, holding them to only three first downs in the second half and outscoring them, 21-0, in the third quarter.


SANTA ANA — There was a demolition going on inside Santa Ana Stadium Friday night, it just wasn't what anyone expected.

Seventh-ranked Esperanza dominated top-ranked Mater Dei, limiting the Monarchs to three first downs in the second half and scoring 21 consecutive points in the third quarter of a 33-7 nonleague victory before a crowd of 7,000.

The upset drops the Monarchs to 1-1. Esperanza improves to 1-1 after losing to Irvine last week.

"I thought we were ready to play but we weren't," Mater Dei Coach Bruce Rollinson said. "Give Esperanza all the credit in the world tonight, they did a great job. As for us, I wish I had the answers."

The Monarchs had the answers for Esperanza running back Dahrin Footman in the first half, limiting him to 11 yards in nine carries. The Aztecs trailed, 12-7, at halftime.

Then, the floodgates opened.

After stopping Mater Dei on its first possession of the third quarter, Esperanza got the ball and faced a third and two at the Monarch 47.

Mater Dei apparently stopped Footman short of a first down, but the 5-foot-8 178-pound junior scooted free and broke through several tackles and rambled 47 yards for a touchdown with nine minutes 13 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

Footman rushed for 117 yards in 18 carries, gaining 106 in the second half.

"Dahrin's one of the best backs in Orange County," Esperanza Coach Gary Meek said. "They were really keying on him early, and he was a great decoy."

After Footman's touchdown, the Aztec defense stuffed Mater Dei on its next possession.

Esperanza got the ball on its 40, and Aztec quarterback Chris Stretch marched the Aztecs 60 yards in eight plays, ending the drive with a five-yard play-action pass Tom Tape for a touchdown with 3:16 left in the quarter. Jason Florence's conversion made it 26-7.

Esperanza's defense put the exclamation point on the quarter when defensive back Kareem Clark intercepted a John Flynn pass and returned it 44 yards for another touchdown.

"Tonight, it was just a great team effort," Meek said. "We showed what we can do if we just go out and play hard."

Esperanza rushed for 284 yards as a team. Fullbacks Justin Fewell, who had 92 yards in 12 carries, and Tom Joyner, who had 45 yards in five carries, picked up the slack for Footman in the first half.

Mater Dei sophomore Michael Graham had a solid game, rushing for 118 yards and a touchdown in 21 carries. But Esperanza limited Graham to only two rushes of more than 20 yards. His longest was a 26-yarder early in the first half.

Linebacker Jim Stewart led the Aztec defense, which frustrated Flynn all night. Flynn, who completed 14 of 15 passes for over 200 yards in a victory over Servite a week ago, completed only five of 13 passes for 80 yards. Flynn had two passes intercepted, and he was removed from the game in the third quarter.

Esperanza took a 6-0 lead on Joyner's five-yard touchdown run, capping a 13-play, 80-yard drive with 11:08 remaining in the second quarter.

Esperanza took a 12-0 lead when Stretch faked two handoffs and ran 24 yards for a touchdown with 8:10 remaining in the second quarter.

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