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Wild finish can't save Santa Margarita
MISSION VIEJO - Santa Margarita almost pulled off the unthinkable.
The Eagles rallied for two touchdowns in the final 2:06 minutes of regulation to force overtime, but the magic ran out in the extra period.
St. Bonaventure of Ventura's star running back Zack Green, who rushed for 186 yards and four touchdowns on 33 carries, scored on a 1-yard touchdown run in overtime and the Seraphs held on for a thrilling 27-21 victory in the CIF-SS Pac-5 Division quarterfinals to avenge their only loss of the season Friday night at Trabuco Hills High.
"We never gave up," Green said. "That's what Coach T installs in us to fight until the last minute, and the strongest man will come out on top."
Santa Margarita had star quarterback Johnny Stanton in the lineup when it beat St. Bonaventure, 35-27, in a memorable game on Sept. 21. Stanton suffered a season-ending knee injury and didn't play the rest of the season. The Eagles, who were the defending Pac-5 and Division 1 state champions, finished with a 9-3 record in a season where they were hit by transfers and injuries.
"St. Bonaventure is a terrific team and we have a lot of great players on our team too, but they came out on top," wide receiver/defensive back Connor O'Brien said. "They played a (heck) of a game. They have a lot of great guys, they are a disciplined team and they came out on top tonight."
The top-seeded Seraphs (11-1), ranked No. 6 in the state by CalHiSports, were sitting on a 21-7 late in the fourth quarter when running back Marcus Chambers fumbled and the Eagles recovered at St. Bonaventure's 38 with 3:49 remaining in regulation.
Eagles running back Ryan Wolpin, who had 129 yards on 25 carries, broke a 37-yard run and eventually scored on a 9-yard touchdown run to make it 21-14 with 2:06 remaining.
"One of our kids fumbled and just got to him and told him to stop focusing on it," Green said. "We'll cover for you. People make mistakes all the time."
St. Bonaventure's ensuing possession started at its own 12 and instead of trying to run out the clock, sophomore quarterback Ricky Town threw an incomplete pass on first down to stop the clock. The Eagles degense held and forced a punt.
The Eagles had 1:37 remaining in regulation when it took over at St. Bonaventure's 47. Santa Margarita's sophomore quarterback Kyle Sweet hit O'Brien for a 32-yard gain on the first play of the drive and he eventually found O'Brien again for a 6-yard touchdown pass to tie it, 21-21, with 25 seconds left in overtime.
Santa Margarita had all the momentum going into overtime, but the Seraphs won the coin toss and chose to start first on offense. That's when St. Bonaventure gave the Eagles a heavy dose of Green, who has committed to Arizona. Green ran seven consecutive times and finally pounded it into the end zone on third-and-goal from the 1-yard line.
The Seraphs tried a trick play on the 2-point conversion, but wide receiver Bryce Dixon's pass to Town was broken up by the Eagles, so their lead was 27-21.
Darius Vines blind-sided Sweet for a sack on third-and-6. That brought up a fourth-and-10. Mark Zavala delivered a big hit on Sweet as he released the pass. It never had a chance and fell incomplete and the Seraphs were victorious.
St. Bonaventure will be home against Mater Dei in next week's semifinals.