Crean Lutheran dominates Sage Hill after slow start


IRVINE – Crean Lutheran’s Daniel Ruiz returned a missed field goal 95 yards to spark a 56-6 homecoming victory over Sage Hill in both teams’ Academy League opener at Irvine High on Thursday night.

Based on history, Crean Lutheran (5-2, 1-0) and Sage Hill (1-6, 0-1) were off to a snail’s pace start. After combining for 118 points in 2014’s matchup, each team only held the ball once in a scoreless first quarter.

“We came out a little flat,” Crean Lutheran coach Brett Mertens said. “First quarter was over so fast that we kind of got off to a slow start.”

The tenor of the game changed on one play.

Sage Hill lined up for a 25-yard field goal on the third play of the second quarter.

The kick was drilled into the ground and rolled to the 5-yard line. Ruiz scooped up the ball and returned it 95 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

“Everyone was screaming, ‘Pick up the ball! Run the ball back!’” Ruiz said. “I honestly didn’t know (it was a live ball). Good thing I picked it up and ran it back.”

From there, Crean Lutheran took control with the running game.

The Saints’ next drive went 60 yards with a 5-yard touchdown run by Garrett Cox.

Off an interception by Ruiz, Cox ran in another score from 4 yards out for a 21-0 halftime lead.

Crean Lutheran scored on five consecutive drives in the second half with two touchdown passes from Gavin Folsom and two more TD runs by Cox.

Cox ran for 110 yards on 12 carries with four touchdowns. Crean Lutheran rushed for 301 yards.

Sage Hill’s lone score came on a 93-yard kick return by David Dewey in the third quarter.

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