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No drama for Santa Margarita in blowout
MISSION VIEJO - A night of milestones helped top-ranked Santa Margarita end a tumultuous week with a dominating victory.
Senior quarterback Johnny Stanton threw for 324 yards and three touchdowns, while senior Ryan Wolpin rushed for 173 yards and scored three touchdowns in the Eagles 55-0 nonleague victory over Trabuco Hills on Friday at Mission Viejo High.
In their first game since the mid-week transfer of UCLA-bound offensive lineman Erik Bunte to Mission Viejo, the Eagles rushed for 285 yards and totaled 609 yards of total offense, breaking the school mark of 583, set in the 1997 CIF final.
"We were really focused this week and got past all the drama," Stanton said. "We took it upon ourselves as a team to get past that and it was exciting to have such a complete game."
Stanton, celebrating his 18th birthday, also rushed for 89 yards and two touchdowns. He set a new school record for total yards (5,459), which surpassed the previous record of 5,260 set by former star and current Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer.
It was also the 300th game in the coaching career of Eagles head coach Harry Welch, who is now 246-52-2 in coaching stints at Canyon of Canyon Country, St. Margaret's and Santa Margarita.
"We don't feel that we have arrived, but we played a whole lot better than we did last week and the week before," Welch said. "This team has been through a lot and handled it with a lot of class, dignity, and youthful maturity. We have a chance to be a good football team."
It was the feet of Stanton that helped set up the opening score of the game. On a 4th and 3 from the Mustangs' 49-yard line, Stanton spun away from the Mustang pursuit and raced 32 yards for the first down. On the next play, Wolpin raced through a huge hole on the along the right side of the line for a 17 yard touchdown to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead.
Santa Margarita's defense forced a Mustang punt on the ensuing drive, and the Eagles needed only three plays to make it a 14-0 lead, as Stanton raced 53 yards on a draw for the touchdown.
The Mustangs best scoring chance of the first half came on their next drive, as they drove to the Eagles' 16-yard line. But sophomore Blake Cuzzupoli missed a 33-yard field goal attempt.
Stanton then led the Eagles on a 10-play, 80-yard drive, that ended with him connecting on a deep slant for a 22-yard touchdown to senior Connor O'Brien to make it 21-0.
Stanton's second touchdown pass of the half , a 24-yard scoring pass to senior River Cracraft increased the Eagles lead to 28-0.
After an interception by O'Brien on the next Mustangs' possession, Stanton and Wolpin connected three times for 44 yards to help get the Eagles to the 1-yard line. Stanton culminated the drive with a one yard plunge into the end zone to make it 35-0.
O'Brien added another 22 yard touchdown early in the third quarter, and Wolpin added the final touchdowns of the game later in the quarter, scoring on runs of 4 and 31 yards.
"Our strength has been in the passing game, but tonight we knew that we had to do good on the runs and we really picked it up," said Wolpin. "I think when everything comes together, we are a great unit."