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ORANGE COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREP EXTRA

Carlsbad Can't Stop the Eagles

After leading by 27 points in the second half, Santa Margarita survives late rally to win, 34-27, for its 27th consecutive victory.

September 19, 1998|MICHAEL ITAGAKI | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Santa Margarita, ranked fourth in Orange County, raced to a 27-point lead against Carlsbad, before sweating out a 34-27 victory Friday at Saddleback College.

It was Santa Margarita's 27th consecutive victory, giving the Eagles the second-longest winning streak in Orange County history. Edison holds the county record, winning 32 consecutive games from 1979 to '81.

But the streak wouldn't be intact if it weren't for some big plays and kind bounces.

Santa Margarita quarterback Greg Orlando completed 17 of 23 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for 49 yards in 13 carries. But the victory wasn't secure until Matt Moore recovered an onside kick with 2 minutes 7 seconds remaining for Santa Margarita (2-0), top ranked in the Southern Section Division VI.

That's because Carlsbad (1-1), an unranked team in the San Diego Section Division I, cashed in on two fourth quarter Santa Margarita turnovers and scored four touchdowns in the final 13 minutes.

Carlsbad running back Pana Faumuina, who rushed for 117 yards in 25 carries, scored three touchdowns to help the Lancers pull within seven points twice in the final eight minutes.

But Santa Margarita had an answer for Carlsbad's rally. After Faumuina completed a 35-yard halfback pass to Kyle Hanson to set up a two-yard touchdown run that made it 27-20 with 7:31 remaining, Orlando delivered a big play.

Facing third and 18 from his own 12, Orlando hooked up with Mike O'Gorman, who caught eight passes for 172 yards, for an 88-yard touchdown pass. The fly-pattern play up the left sideline made it 34-20 with 5:53 remaining, making Faumuina's final touchdown run with 2:11 remaining less damaging.

"It was an automatic adjustment to their coverage," Santa Margarita Coach Jim Hartigan said. "Their guy pressed up and we went up top. It was a great throw and catch. We opened it up a little tonight and Greg stepped it up."

Santa Margarita's Dustin Creager recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown to make it, 27-0, with 3:24 remaining in the third quarter after Matt Lopez caught a 19-yard pass but couldn't hang onto the ball as he crossed the goal line.

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