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BILL ALKOFER, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Loara quarterback Frankie Nocella eludes a tackle during Saturday's game vs. Magnolia. Nocella rushed for 100 yards and accounted for four TDs as Loara broke a 12-game skid.

Loara collects first victory since 2014

STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM – For a few minutes there, they found themselves in foreign territory.

There were actual smiles in the postgame handshake line. Arms were raised toward the sky and index fingers pointed No. 1 to the sound of the alma mater.

Besides the celebration, it had even been a while since Loara’s offense last lined up in the victory formation. Now that they’ve shaken the cobwebs off, Coach Mitch Olson and his players hope all those actions become routine.

Saxons quarterback Frankie Nocella ran for 100 yards and accounted for four touchdowns, while running back Jiggy Mendoza had 149 yards rushing and a touchdown of his own as Loara snapped a 12-game losing streak with a 34-7 triumph over Magnolia High at Glover Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The victory was the Saxons’ (1-1) first since Halloween night of 2014. Loara finished last season with an 0-10 record, falling by an average margin of 23 points.

“You don’t always get what you deserve, but today I thought we played a pretty darn good ballgame,” said Olson, moments after addressing a noticeably pumped group of players. “It gets the monkey off your back. Sometimes I think when you lose for a while, you start to doubt yourself and you start hoping that it happens.

“The kids focused this week. They paid attention. They got on each other. They came out and played a really good game, which gives you the belief we can go out and continue this.”

A pair of Nocella touchdown scrambles and a 70-yard scamper from Mendoza gave the Saxons a 20-0 halftime lead.

Magnolia (0-3) made things interesting midway through the third quarter when Nathan Michel connected with Damien Rosales for a 23-yard TD pass. A quick Loara three-and- out on the ensuing possession gave the Sentinels newfound energy and a chance to further chip away at the deficit.

Faced with a fourth-and-1 on its own side of the field, Magnolia lost any momentum it had built up when Michel’s quarterback sneak was stuffed by the Saxons defensive line for a turnover on downs.

Two plays later, Nocella found a wide-open Isaac Lobatos over the middle of the field for a 24-yard touchdown pass, extending Loara’s lead back to 20 points headed into the fourth quarter.

Contact the writer: kconnolly@scng.com


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