Santa Ana plays like a top seed


SANTA ANA – Santa Ana’s evolution from underdog to top dog transpired in a matter of weeks.

Just days after winning their first league title since the 1991 season, the Saints were placed atop the Division 13 bracket as the No. 1 overall seed, instantaneously sporting a target on their back.

“You try and tell the kids, ‘Act like you’ve been here before,’ but the reality is, we haven’t,” Santa Ana coach Charlie TeGantvoort said.

There’s certainly room for fine tuning, but at least through one round, the Saints looked comfortable in their new role.

Senior running back Jorge Briseno powered his way to 150 yards and three touchdowns, the defense forced a pair of second half turnovers that led to touchdowns and the Saints cruised to a 32-8 victory over Alhambra in a CIF-SS Division 13 first-round game at Santa Ana Stadium on Thursday night.

Santa Ana (11-0) will play the winner of tonight’s Carnegie of Riverside-Azusa game in the second round next week. The Moors finished their season with a 5-6 record.

After a scoreless first quarter, Santa Ana jumped out to a 15-point lead behind a pair of Briseno touchdown runs in the second. The Saints senior rushed for 131 yards on 18 carries in the first half alone, and capped scoring drives with 4- and 2-yard runs.

The Saints quickly built on their 15-0 halftime lead, adding a 28-yard field goal from Ismael Mojica to open the third quarter. Three plays after the ensuing kickoff, junior defensive back Joshua Brito scooped up a Lu-Ring Paialii fumble and ran it in from 20 yards out, extending Santa Ana’s lead to 25-0.

Briseno’s third score was set up by brother Jonathan Briseno’s interception early in the fourth quarter. It was third week in a row Jorge carried the ball 25-plus times.

Santa Ana rushed for 277 yards as a team. Quarterback Damian Garcia added for 136 yards through the air. Jonathan Briseno hauled in two interceptions on the night.

Alhambra did not score until midway through the fourth quarter and did so on a Paialii 67-yard scamper. Moors junior running back Salman Gurung led the team with 110 yards on 11 carries, gaining most of that yardage on 50- and 47-yard carries.

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