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Eagles Beat Mystique

Football: Santa Margarita tops Mater Dei, 33-19, to clinch league with second win in a row over the Monarchs.


For years, Santa Ana Mater Dei made opponents fumble, stumble and beat themselves. Call it the Monarch Mystique.

But Santa Margarita no longer suffers the affliction.

The Eagles got solid efforts from its offense and defense and seized control of the Serra League with a 33-19 victory over Mater Dei in front of 7,000 at Santa Ana Stadium on Friday.

Santa Margarita, No. 6 in The Times Regional rankings, improved to 7-1-1, 2-0 in league; 12th-ranked Mater Dei, which had won four in a row, fell to 5-4, 1-1.

After losing the first meeting in 1999, 34-0, Santa Margarita has won two in a row and assures itself a share of first place and a second consecutive league title. The Eagles play Servite next week. Servite was beaten last week by Mater Dei, 19-0.

"After winning last year's game [21-14], it proved to our players we can play with them," Santa Margarita Coach Jim Hartigan said. "It's no longer big brother vs. little brother, it's two good programs getting after each other."

Mater Dei had outscored its last four opponents, 121-30, after a slow start. Santa Margarita got its knockout punch in the third quarter while holding a 12-7 lead. The Eagles drove 90 yards on their first series with Ashton White rushing for 64 in the eight-play drive. White scored on a 13-yard run and Doug Stone's conversion gave Santa Margarita a 19-7 advantage.

Santa Margarita added to its lead and iced the game when it scored less than two minutes later.

Mater Dei's Rafael Rice fumbled and Tom Cappelletti recovered at the Monarch 27. White rushed twice, and then Cole DiVitis scored on an end around from 13 yards to stretch the margin to 26-7.

It was the second of three times that a Mater Dei turnover would lead to a Santa Margarita touchdown.

"They're a better football team than us, and we have a propensity for shooting ourselves in the foot," Rollinson said before the game. "It doesn't take a genius, we have to contain Ashton White and the quarterback [Marshall Tharpe]."

Tharpe was efficient, completing seven of 10 passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns--42 yards to Brandon Clark and 33 yards to Renny Jackson. White rarely went down on first contact and finished with 212 yards in 33 carries, with touchdown runs of 13 and 25 yards.

It was too much for Mater Dei to overcome, even though it rallied in the fourth, driving 58 yards in 1:16 as Colt Brennan completed six passes for 52 yards, the last a 14-yarder to Kenny Chicoine. But Tim Chicoine missed a 35-yard point-after attempt, the result of a 15-yard penalty for excessively celebrating the touchdown. That made it 25-16 with 5:25 remaining.

And any further chance Mater Dei had was turned back when a deep pass from Brennan at the 29 to Matt Haugen at the Santa Margarita 35--a possible touchdown-producing play--went off Haugen's fingertips. It was one of the few things Haugen missed--he had nine receptions for 86 yards.

After Haugen's drop, Santa Margarita's Matt Rupp got one of his team's six sacks --including two each by Mike Leiter and Brad Dillahunty--and Kyle Rutenbar intercepted a pass at the 46. On fourth and three from the 25, White went around the right side for a touchdown with 1:48 left.

Brennan completed 21of 28 passes for 185 yards. Rice rushed 22 times for 149 yards and scores of 38 and two yards.

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