A.B. Miller 27 - Eagles 21

MISSION VIEJO, CA., November 17, 2000 – Angel Santiago's 13-yard touchdown run in overtime to lift the A. B. Miller Rebels to a thrilling 27-21 win over the Eagles before a capacity crowd of 5,000 at Saddleback College. Santiago's touchdown capped a remarkable series of events that saw the Eagles score 14 points within a 56-second span late in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 21. The Rebels improved to 6-5, and loss left the Eagles at 8-3 and brought an unexpectedly abrupt end to what had been a breakout season.

Entering the game Santa Margarita was looking to avenge the 31-0 loss suffered at the hands of A. B. Miller last year; however, for the second year in a row they fell in first round to the Rebels by virtue of committing an uncharacteristic four turnovers and failing to contain their potent option attack. As they had done in 1999, the Rebels came out and controlled the line of scrimmage, dominated the time of possession, capitalized on Eagle miscues and kept the Eagles high-powered offense in check. The same Santa Margarita offense that had not lost a turnover in six weeks, and had been averaging 413 yards and 37 points over the past three weeks, ran only 15 offensive plays and picked up only three first downs in the first half and found themselves down 21-7. Freshman QB Kyle Jacobo, in only his second varsity start, guided the Rebels on a 12-play eighty-yard scoring drive which began after the Eagles' Will Johnson missed a 37-yard field goal on the Eagles' opening series. Santiago, who rushed for a game high 119 yards and scored three touchdowns on the night, took it in from six-yards out at the 0:03 mark gave the Rebels a 7-0 lead. The Rebels capitalized on a Tyler Thompson fumble three plays later at the Eagle 41 by going on a seven-play drive capped by Jonathon Nairn's nine-yard touchdown run with 7:49 left in the half. After an Eagle punt, the defense stopped the Rebels and forced a punt which Johnnie Walker returned a school-record 67 yards to bring the Eagles within a touchdown at 14-7 at the 3:49 mark. Nairn's 52-yard kickoff return set up a nine-play 47-yard scoring drive by the Rebels which ended on Santiago's six-yard run with only 42 seconds left in the half. The Rebels pulled out all of the stops by recovering an onsides kick and driving to the Eagle 18, but Josh MacMillan's 35-yard field goal attempt was wide.

The Eagles opened the second half by going on a 15-play drive that brought them to the Rebel 23, but an incompletion on 3rd-and-seven and a subsequent sack ended the threat. The Eagle defense had given up 233 yards in the first half but they responded immediately as Trevor Zinn intercepted a Jacobo pass and returned it to an apparent touchdown before a clipping penalty brought it back. After an exchange of punts, the momentum swung again as Dlugolecki (10 of 19 for 82 yards) overthrew a pass that was intercepted by Lawrence Lovelace and returned to the Rebel 24. Another solid Eagle defensive stand forced the Rebels to punt; however the snap was muffed and Chris Cutler recovered it at the A. B. Miller 13. Five plays later Thompson (24 carries for 100 yards) scored on fourth down with only 2:57 remaining in the game to close the gap to 21-14. Matt Vogel recovered the onsides kick to set the Eagles up at the Rebel 49. Form there Dlugolecki hit Walker for 20 yards and two runs by Thompson gave the Eagles a first down at the 18. On the next play Dlugolecki connected with Curtis Cooper on an out pattern which the junior turned into a touchdown. Coopers PAT tied the score at 21 with 2:01 left.

Daniel Bebereia forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, but after a mad scramble, Santiago was there to recover it on the Rebel two thereby essentially saving the game for the Rebels. A run by Santiago lost a yard and after an incompletion and a QB sneak the Rebels punted where it was downed at their 44. Dlugolecki's completions to Thompson and Cooper moved the ball to the 26, but Lovelace's second interception at the one-yard line sent the game to overtime. A. B. Miller won the coin toss and elected to go on defense first. On first down from the 25, Thompson found a hole, but was stripped of the ball at the 18 and A. B. Miller recovered it. On first down Jacobo ran for 13 yards before Santiago's game-winning run sealed the Eagles fate. Despite allowing 18 first downs, the defensive unit played well particularly in the second half when the allowed only 64 yards. Matt Vogel and Alex Huston, playing in their final games for the Eagles, each picked up a season high 12 tackles while sophomores Cutler and Ashton White contributed 10 and five respectively. Junior defensive backs Thomas Cappelletti (eight tackles), Walker (three tackles and a fumble recovery) and Zinn (two tackles and an interception) also played well.

By Adrian Peters
Sports Information Director