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PREP EXTRA / SATURDAY FOOTBALL PULLOUT

Dana Hills Loses War, but Wins Battles

Preps: Dolphins stay close to fourth-ranked Bishop Amat until fourth quarter of a 34-18 loss.

September 27, 1997|MICHAEL ITAGAKI | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

DANA POINT — Dana Hills' loss to La Puente Bishop Amat, the fourth-ranked team in the Southern Section Division I poll, left the Dolphins frustrated, wounded and significantly beaten on the scoreboard, 34-18, Friday at Dana Hills High.

But the Dolphins' spirit was far from broken.

Midway through the third quarter, Dana Hills, which hasn't reached the playoffs since 1991, was within seven points of Bishop Amat (3-0), which has won Division I championships in '92 and '95. But things came apart for the Dolphins after that. They fumbled three times and Bishop Amat's Mike Wagner ran for two of his three touchdowns, short-circuiting any upset hopes for Dana Hills (2-1).

"I'm convinced now that we can compete with anybody," Dana Hills Coach Scott Orloff said. "The fact is that you're not going to beat a great team like that making the mistakes we did."

Among the mistakes were costly penalties that twice erased Dana Hills touchdowns in the first quarter. A clipping penalty wiped out Larry Page's 95-yard return of the opening kickoff and an illegal motion penalty erased a 22-yard touchdown run by Matt Johnson.

Defensively, a blown coverage in the second quarter led to Bishop Amat's first touchdown, Dennis Wyrick's 38-yard reception from Sean Koelle. Although the Dolphins contained Wagner on 13 of his 16 carries, he broke loose for scoring runs of 75, 73, and 19 yards and he finished with 228 yards rushing.

Dana Hills held Wagner to 40 yards in eight carries in the first half, but Bishop Amat still led, 10-7.

Then Orloff limped onto the field after halftime.

"I kicked a chair during halftime," Orloff said. "I was mad because I told our kids we were dominating them. We should have been leading."

Dana Hills moved the ball effectively on the ground against Bishop Amat. Julio Peraza rushed for 192 yards in 30 carries and scored two touchdowns. The Dolphins rushed for 262 yards and piled up more than 400 yards of total offense, but four lost fumbles eventually cost them.

At the very least, Dana Hills proved it is a dangerous team. If they don't cut down on their mental mistakes and turnovers, however, the season could dissolve into a series of "what ifs." But Orloff saw bright spots and hopes his team is a few minor adjustments away from making a major impact.

"The South Coast League better watch out for us," Orloff said.

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