Eagles shock Mater Dei

Eagles shock Mater Dei. Santa Margarita hands the county's No. 1 team its first league loss since 1995.

FULLERTON, CA., November 4, 2000 – Santa Margarita knew it needed to play a complete game to beat Mater Dei on Friday night, and that's what the Eagles got.

Almost to the letter.

The Eagles, ranked 10th in Orange County, made big plays on offense, defense and special teams to stun top-ranked Mater Dei, 21-14, and seize control of the Serra League in front of an estimated crowd of 6,000 at Cal State Fullerton.

Santa Margarita, a 34-0 loser to the Monarchs in the teams' first meeting last year at Edison Field, became the first Orange County team to beat Mater Dei since San Clemente posted a 23-17 victory against the Monarchs on October 27, 1995. That was also the Monarchs' last league loss.

Santa Margarita's hero, senior running back/linebacker Tyler Thompson, celebrated the victory with a cartwheel. That, just like the Eagles, hit the mark.

"I've been dreaming about beating Mater Dei since preschool," said Thompson, who scored two touchdowns, forced a fumble and carried the ball 31 times for 91 yards. "We knew we had to play great defense, offense and special teams to beat Mater Dei."

All the scoring in the game came in the first half. But Santa Margarita's play was steady throughout, and sometimes spectacular. The Eagles (7-2, 2-0) made their biggest plays on defense and special teams.

On the fifth play of the game, Thompson set the tone by stripping Cameron Carmona at Santa Margarita's 49-yard line. Ashton White scooped up the ball and returned it to the Monarchs 9. On the next play, Thompson scored to give Santa Margarita a 6-0 lead 2:09 into the game.

Thompson gave Santa Margarita a 13-0 lead with 1:37 left in the first on a 5-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Matt Dlugolecki, capping a 71-yard drive.

The Eagles' special teams also came up big, blocking two punts, one in each half. White blocked a punt by Bryan New with 1:53 left in the first half. Alex Huston recovered the ball at the Monarchs 1-yard line, and three plays later Dlugolecki, who has given an oral commitment to UCLA, scored on a keeper from 2 yards out to give the Eagles a 20-7 lead with 1:40 left in the second quarter.

Mater Dei (7-2, 1-1), ranked second behind Long Beach Poly in Division I, made a key stand near the end of the half. Matt Leinart, who has given an oral commitment to USC, guided the Monarchs on a five-play, 70-yard scoring drive that spanned just 1:04. Leinart capped the drive with a 21-yard pass to Jeff Diulio (12 catches, 125 yards) with 36 seconds left in the half.

The second half was scoreless, but Santa Margarita kept making plays. Thompson rushed for 46 yards and helped the Eagles control the clock. In the first half, Santa Margarita held a 16:30-7:30 edge in time of possession.

Mater Dei's best chance to tie the score came midway through the fourth. The Monarchs advanced the ball to their 43, but a penalty call and a sack by Chris Cutler moved the ball back to Mater Dei's 20 and killed the drive.

Santa Margarita's Matt Vogel then sealed the game by blocking another punt with 4:32 left. Santa Margarita recovered at the Monarchs 41 and ran out the clock.

By Dan Albano
Saturday, November 4, 2000
The Orange County Register