Santa Margarita junior Chad Magyar runs into the end zone during a game against Santa Margarita at Saddleback College on Friday, November 4, 2016. (Photo by Nick Agro, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Santa Margarita pulls off pressure-packed win


MISSION VIEJO – The pressure of a must-win game is nothing new for the sixth-ranked Santa Margarita football team.

The Eagles, who lost their first three Trinity League games, have been in must-win mode for weeks.

With third-place and a qualifier spot on the line for the upcoming CIF-SS playoffs, the Eagles carried over their momentum from last week’s victory over Orange Lutheran and recorded a 49-24 victory over fifth-ranked Servite on Friday night at Saddleback College.

The Eagles (6-4, 2-3) finished third in the Trinity League. The top three finishers qualify for entry to the playoffs. The pairings for the CIF-SS playoffs will be released Sunday.

The Friars finish the regular season 4-6 overall and 1-4 in league (fifth place). They are expected to receive a spot in the Division 1 playoff bracket.

“We started off with the two juggernauts (Mater Dei and St. John Bosco) to start league play,” Santa Margarita coach Rich Fisher said. “That can be a humiliating process, but I’m really proud of the kids.

“I would say from the first half of the Bosco game where we battled them really good, played them really solid, all the way through this game, our kids have continued to keep grinding and keep believing.”

The Eagles jumped to a 28-7 lead early in the second quarter, but appeared to have lost a bit of the momentum as the Friars managed to cut the score to 35-24 heading into halftime on a 75-yard touchdown pass Tyler Lytle to Kyle Ford and Asa Fuller’s 47-yard field goal.

After a quick three-and-out by the offense to start the second half, the Eagles forced a fumble that was recovered by Alex Kilander.

On the next series, the Eagles kept every play on the ground, with Chad Magyar and Malone Mataele eating up yards to get the ball inside the 5. From there, quarterback Richard Wagner concluded the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run for a 42-24 lead.

After forcing another three-and-out from the Servite offense, the Eagles started from the Friars’ 48. On the third play, Magyar punched the ball into the end zone from the 4 for a 49-24 lead.

“I came into the game trying to work hard,” Magyar said. “The more I ran the ball the coaches saw I was working hard so they just kept giving it to me.”

Magyar finished the game with 252 rushing yards and one touchdown. Mataele had two rushing touchdowns.

“If you look at last week and this week’s game, we have a lot of confidence,” Fisher said.“Hopefully, we will get a good draw. I think the kids are playing a high level right now and with a lot of confidence.”

The Friars started league play splitting their first two games, with their first victory coming against JSerra (38-14). From there, they lost to Orange Lutheran, Mater Dei and JSerra

Despite their ending, the Friars could still be in the running for an at-large berth.

“We got that score right before half (Fuller’s field goal), had a little momentum and after that they just pounded the rock at us,” Servite coach Scott Meyer said. “This is a great league, huge, huge challenge, but I enjoy that challenge and obviously we have a lot of work to do.”

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