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PREP EXTRA / SATURDAY FOOTBALL PULLOUT

Santa Margarita Pounds Servite

Football: Eagles, ranked second in county, have surprisingly easy time beating No. 8 Friars, 55-14.

September 27, 1997|PAUL McLEOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

FULLERTON — Santa Margarita Coach Jim Hartigan didn't really know what to say. Counterpart Larry Toner of Servite said he would have to look at game films before he could figure it out.

It was over so quickly Friday night at Cal State Fullerton that just about everyone who witnessed Santa Margarita's explosive 55-14 nonleague victory over the Friars was at a loss for words.

Second-ranked Santa Margarita used only 11 plays to score the first five times it touched the ball and led, 35-0, six seconds into the second quarter. The Eagles racked up a school-record 415 yards in total offense, breaking the old mark of 367 yards that had stood since 1991.

Eagle running back Bryant Wolfsberger barely broke a sweat in a quarter and a half of play, but scored four times and rushed for 171 yards in seven carries while barely being hit. Quarterback Carson Palmer completed only three passes in four attempts for 125 yards and two touchdowns and left the game before halftime.

Hartigan smiled after the game, but was not overly excited. He seemed as shocked as anyone about what had happened. He said he couldn't put a finger on why the game turned into such a quick blowout, which avenged a 38-27 loss at the hands of Servite last season. He said that he and his staff had watched Servite (1-2) beat Irvine, 17-0, last week and had designed a few plays that they thought might work.

Boy, did they work. The pace at which the Eagles (3-0) scored was stunning. Santa Margarita was up 7-0 after only 12 seconds had elapsed. Wolfsberger took a handoff from Palmer, who had called an audible, and raced untouched 80 yards up the middle for a score.

Three minutes later, on the Eagles' second play from scrimmage, Palmer hit wide receiver Greg Orlando with a short pass over the middle that Orlando turned into a 60-yard touchdown reception. Servite's secondary was nowhere to be found.

Toner wasn't at a loss for words afterward, but he certainly seemed as stunned as everyone else. Eighth-ranked Servite did manage a total of 205 yards in offense.

"I think it was a combination of things," he said. "They were, obviously a very well-prepared team and we, obviously, weren't. I accept responsibility for that. They are a very good football team and if I knew the answer to what went wrong I would have stopped it on the field."

Toner gambled after Santa Margarita went up 14-0 and the Friars paid the price. Already desperate to establish some kind of continuity before the game got out of hand, the Friars drove from their 20 to the Eagles 41 where they faced third down and a yard to go. The Santa Margarita line held quarterback Ryan Garko for no gain on a quarterback sneak. Toner chose to go for it and running back Tyrone Gribben was stopped at the line of scrimmage.

It took two plays for the Eagles to score their third touchdown. Palmer passed five yards to Wolfsberger, then Palmer found John Minardi on a screen pass at the Servite 28 and Minardi did the rest, racing across the grain and then back up the middle of that vulnerable Friar secondary.

Wolfsberger's 23-yard run with 3:38 left in the first quarter made it 28-0. He scored from 23 yards on the first play of the second and later on a 27-yard carry.

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