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RALPH FRESO, FOR THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Santa Margarita quarterback Johnny Stanton dives forward for a first down on a fourth-and-two against Brophy Prep during the second quarter Saturday in Phoenix.

Santa Margarita good enough to grind out victory

FOR THE REGISTER

PHOENIX - Santa Margarita quarterback Johnny Stanton called Saturday's matchup against Brophy Prep of Phoenix ugly — but beautiful at the same time.

The ugly part Stanton was referring to was no doubt the four costly turnovers committed by the Eagles' offense and the 10 penalties that resulted in the loss of 96 yards. But the beautiful part of the contest was much more important.

Despite a sloppy performance, Santa Margarita, ranked No. 1 in the county preseason poll and No. 2 in the nation by USA Today, managed a 27-14 victory against Brophy, one of Arizona's top teams.

The Eagles' defense played a big role in the victory by minimizing the effects of the offensive mistakes and by shutting down Brophy's offense, most notably the team's explosive quarterback-receiver combo -- Tyler Bruggman and Devon Allen.

"I think the world of Devon Allen, but he didn't control the game," Santa Margarita coach Harry Welch said of the wide receiver. "I don't think that's a putdown on him. I'm very proud of the way our kids played defense."

Santa Margarita took a 14-7 lead into halftime and extended the lead to 21-14 by the fourth quarter.

A blocked punt by D'Amani Grayer for a touchdown brought Brophy within a touchdown with 6:44 to go, but Santa Margarita's offense finally settled down and ate up precious time on its final march down the field. That drive resulted in a 3-yard touchdown run by Stanton to put the Eagles ahead, 27-14, with under a minute remaining.

"That's the first-game rust coming off," Stanton said. "I think we have a lot to improve on and I'm excited for what's to come."

Stanton was 12-for-20 passing for 215 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also carried the ball 16 times for 92 yards and a score.

The Eagles' Ryan Wolpin carried the ball 25 times for 146 yards, 127 of which came in the second half. Santa Margarita had 22 first downs compared to Brophy's seven.


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