Santa Margarita's Emmett O'Brien, left, celebrates his interception late in the game that help seal the Eagles' 27-15 victory over Orange Lutheran on Friday night at Orange Coast College. Go to the OCVarsity Hot Shots slide show to see all of the game-action photos from Friday's games.

Santa Margarita gives Welch victory to remember

The coach, who had cancer surgery 10 days ago, watches his team beat Orange Lutheran, 27-15.


COSTA MESA - It was a very emotional night for Santa Margarita coach Harry Welch.

Ten days removed from a radical prostatectomy, Welch was back on the sidelines for the Eagles. In a game that featured four lead changes, Santa Margarita prevailed over Orange Lutheran, 27-15, in the Trinity League opener for both teams on Friday night at Orange Coast College.

Lancers coach Jim Kunau met Welch at midfield after the game and wished him well in his recovery from prostate cancer.

"You are a stud," Kunau told Welch.

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Welch thanked his players and coaching staff for being with him through his public battle with cancer.

"I didn't know if I'd be here," Welch said. "I didn't know if I'd be able to stand. I felt strength from the young men, all the people at the school, the faculty and my family."

Santa Margarita had a 14-12 lead at the half, but that evaporated when the Lancers put together a 16-play drive that took 7 minutes, 7 seconds off the clock to start the second half. It culminated with a 25-yard field goal by Josh Cornelius that gave Orange Lutheran a 15-14 lead.

The Eagles responded three plays later. Santa Margarita quarterback Adam Young was facing a ferocious pass rush and almost got sacked before dumping off a pass to running back Cory Thomson, who went 45 yards for a touchdown. The Eagles failed on the 2-point conversion, but they had a 20-15 lead.

It looked as if Orange Lutheran had the momentum in the fourth quarter when it put together an 11-play drive to get into Eagles territory. But then Chris Frost dropped Conner Sullivan for a sack. A holding penalty and a huge sack by Cameron Hume pushed the Lancers back to their 33-yard line.

Sullivan fumbled the exchange with his running back. Nick Owens pounced on it for the Eagles, who took over at Orange Lutheran's 30 with 3:15 left.

Young, who was 8 of 13 for 202 yards and three touchdowns, got knocked out of the game late in the third quarter. He said he was a little banged up, but he'll be ready to go next week. Johnny Stanton stepped in to replace Young.

On fourth-and-7, Stanton connected with Jeff Emanuel for a first down. Thomson, who had a 28-yard touchdown called back on a holding penalty earlier in the drive, delivered the backbreaker with a 16-yard touchdown run to give the Eagles a 27-15 lead with 2:15 remaining.

Orange Lutheran drove to the Eagles 36 before Emmett O'Brien picked off Sullivan with 1:04 remaining, and the Eagles ran out the final 64 seconds to seal the victory.

"It feels good to get this kind of win, but we still have a long ways to go," said Thomson, who had four receptions for 123 yards and two touchdowns. He also had 13 carries for 64 yards and a touchdown.

It was the first time the Eagles (5-1, 1-0) had beaten the Lancers (3-3, 0-1) since 1989 and the first time they had beaten them in Trinity League play.

Santa Margarita improved to 5-1 overall and 1-0 in league, while Orange Lutheran dropped to 3-3 and 0-1.

The Lancers stopped Santa Margarita on fourth-and-2 on the opening drive of the game and Jabari Wilson scored on a 6-yard run to give Orange Lutheran a 6-0 lead in the first quarter.

Young connected with Logan Sweet for a 17-yard touchdown and he hit Thomson for a 27-yard touchdown in the second quarter to give the Eagles a 14-6 lead.

Orange Lutheran put together a 17-play, 80-yard drive that was capped by Demetrius Palmer's 1-yard TD run with 9 seconds left in the half to cut Santa Margarita's lead to 14-12.

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