Unbeaten Segerstrom tops Westminster on late TD, 28-22


SANTA ANA – Segerstrom’s Angel Lopez touched the ball just once Friday night, but he made it count.

Lopez’s 5-yard touchdown run with 45 seconds left helped lift Segerstrom to a 28-22 victory over rival Westminster in a thrilling Golden West League opener at Segerstrom.

On the clinching drive, Lopez was substituted in for Jaguars tailback Denilson Santamaria, who had carried the ball three consecutive times and five times on a nine-play, 65-yard drive. Lopez took a pitch from quarterback Marcos Avalos and ran off the left side, barreling his way into the end zone.

“Next guy up,” Jaguars coach Joe Tagaloa said. “We’re a team, and that means everybody picks up for each other. Tonight was a team win.”

And winning is all the Jaguars – ranked No. 1 in CIF-SS Division 12 – have been doing this season, as they improved to 6-0 – the best start to a season in program history.

Santamaria finished with 120 yards rushing and one touchdown on 17 carries. He also scored on a 92-yard kickoff return.

Segerstrom’s defense was led by cornerback Keith Morales, who had two interceptions, including one on the game’s penultimate play.

Tailback Josh Avila rushed for 159 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries for Westminster (2-4).

Segerstrom never trailed, but Westminster (2-4, 0-1) tied the score twice and had the ball with the score knotted at 22-22 with 6:35 remaining. But the Jaguars forced the Lions into a three-and-out, setting up the go-ahead drive.

“Just a tough loss,” Lions coach Ted McMillen said. “I hate losing these close ones.“

The Lions played without starting quarterback Noah Melbon, who injured his wrist in last week’s victory over Beckman. Sophomore Malachi Mesa filled in admirably, completing 9 of 19 passes for 54 yards and a touchdown.

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