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Eagles Run Out of Time, Magic

Football: Los Alamitos hangs on to 21-14 victory when Santa Margarita's bid for another comeback win falls short.


Little more than five minutes remained Friday night and all that stood between Santa Margarita and a possible second consecutive comeback victory was 79 yards of Cal State Fullerton turf.

The Eagles, who trailed by 21 points late in the third quarter, had rallied for two touchdowns and now were in the midst of an stirring drive that took them to the Los Alamitos 12-yard line with 18 seconds left.

From there, Santa Margarita quarterback Matt Dlugolecki threw a short pass to Cole DeVitis, who was tackled three yards behind the line of scrimmage by a mob of Griffin defenders with the clock dwindling toward zero.

The Eagles scrambled to get another play off, but time ran out as No. 4 Los Alamitos held off No. 6 Santa Margarita, 21-14, in a nonleague game before 3,000 and a regional television audience on Fox Sports Net 2.

"It was a hell of a game for the second game of the year," said Griffin Coach John Barnes, who moved past Clare Van Hoorebeke to become Orange County's third all-time winningest coach with 191 victories. "It was a playoff game."

Santa Margarita (1-1) was looking to make it two dramatic wins in a row after knocking off Chino Hills Ayala, 22-17, last week after trailing by 17 points. The Eagles fell behind 21-0 this time as Los Alamitos (2-0) rode running back Adam Nauta (156 yards in 21 carries) to all three of its touchdowns on rushes of four, 48 and 21 yards.

But the Griffin offense stalled after Nauta had to leave the game early in the fourth quarter with a nagging groin injury originally suffered in last week's victory over Los Angeles Washington.

Santa Margarita scored its first points late in the third quarter when running back Tyler Thompson rushed for a 27-yard touchdown. Thompson led the Eagles with 125 yards rushing in 20 carries.

Santa Margarita pulled to within seven points when Thompson recovered a botched Los Alamitos punt snap in the end zone early in the fourth quarter. Punter Steve Shinen, instead of falling on the loose ball for a safety, bobbled it around, and Thompson fell on it to make the score 21-14.

But the Eagles, who had moved the ball effectively on the ground all night, were forced to pass late on their final drive with the clock running out.

"We ran out of time," Santa Margarita Coach Jim Hartigan said. "If we had more time, I would have preferred that we continue to run the ball. But this is the second week in a row where we battled and hung in there."

With a strong effort in the first meeting between the schools, Santa Margarita showed that it has arrived in its second year in Division I. But Los Alamitos, long a division power, isn't giving up any ground.

"We knew this would be a championship-type game," Nauta said. "We came out and we perfected. I'm just happy for this win."

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