Eagles 41 - Norco 26

NORCO, CA., September 29, 2000 – The Eagles turned in an outstanding all-around effort, highlighted by big plays on both sides of the ball, in defeating the Norco Cougars 41-26 before an overflow crowd of 2,800 at Norco High School. The win improved the Eagles to 3-1, while the Cougars fell to 2-2. The game was exciting from the first series. After Matt Dlugolecki's first pass was intercepted setting up the Cougars on the Eagle 24, Norco needed just three plays to line up for a first-and-goal on the Eagle one. However, a fumbled snap was recovered by nose guard Doug Alvarado on the two to end the Cougar threat. From there, the Eagles marched 98 yards on just eight plays highlighted by a 23-yard run by Tyler Thompson and capped by a 28-yard touchdown strike from Dlugolecki to junior WR Curtis Cooper at the 5:50 mark. The Cougars then used a balanced attack to drive 80 yards and tie the score at 7-7 after a 5-yard run by Scott Hudson. After a holding penalty and two runs netting minus four yards left the Eagles in a third-and-24 situation on the Cougar six, Dlugolecki hit Thompson on a slip screen and the senior standout raced through the secondary, broke a tackle near midfield and continued on for a 94-yard touchdown with 30 seconds left in the quarter to give the Eagles the lead for good at 14-7. The 94-yard score was the second longest receiving touchdown in school history, and interestingly it turned out to be only the second longest touchdown play on the evening.

Tom Cappelletti picked off a Casey Hansen pass on the Cougars next possession, but the Eagles were not able to capitalize and were forced to punt. On Norco's next possession senior DE Chad Brazee intercepted another Hansen pass and ran untouched 50 yards for a score. It was the Eagles longest defensive touchdown since Matt Nickels returned an interception 71 yards for a score at Trabuco Hills in 1994. The PAT was missed giving the Eagles a 20-7 lead with 7:53 left in the half. After stopping the Cougars on downs, the Eagles drove 61 yards on six plays ending on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Matt Dlugolecki to Kyle Rutenbar giving the Eagles a 26-7 halftime lead. In the third quarter the Eagles were backed up to their own five when Thompson ran 95 yards for another touchdown. Ashton White's two-point conversion run made it 34-7. On Santa Margarita's next possession, Dlugolecki scored from two yards out to extend the lead to 41-7. Norco's starters managed three meaningless scores against the Eagle reserves in the fourth quarter to close out the scoring. Offensively, Thompson earned Offensive Player of the Game for his 127-yard rushing and 109-yard receiving effort. Dlugolecki was six of 11 for 181 yards and a career- high three touchdowns while junior guard John Finneran collected six decleaters. Defensively, the Eagles forced five turnovers - the most since forcing five in a 63-0 win over Corona del Mar in 1997- and collected a season-high three sacks with Chris Cutler and Alex Huston picking up one each. Matt Vogel led the team with nine tackles, Thompson registered five tackles and added a sack and forced fumble and Alvarado added four tackles. Cappelletti registered five tackles and Brazee picked up four to go along with their interceptions, while Ashton White had four tackes and picked off his team-leading second interception.

By Adrian Peters
Sports Information Director