Tustin 35 - Eagles 14

TUSTIN, CA., October 6, 2000 – Frostee Rucker rushed for 119 yards and two scores and linebacker Matt McCoy had a school record seven sacks, blocked a punt and recovered it for a touchdown to lead the Tustin Tillers to a convincing 35-14 win over the Eagles before 3,500 at Northrup Field. The win was the first in seven tries for the Tillers against the Eagles and improved Tustin's record to 4-1 while the Eagles fell to 3-2.

The Eagle offense was never able to get on track, but the defense played well enough in the first half to keep it close until the third quarter. Throughout the game Eagle scoring chances were lost due to untimely sacks (eight total), penalties and a missed opportunities. One such blown opportunity happened early on as a fumble at the Tiller 34 that squashed a promising drive that began on the Eagle 21 after the Tillers were stopped on downs on their first possession. The Eagles lone offensive highlight of the half came on their next offensive possession as they needed just three plays to go 55 yards as Matt Dlugolecki found Tyler Thompson for a 42-yard touchdown pass to give Santa Margarita a 7-0 lead at the 1:18 mark of the first quarter. From there the Eagles had trouble moving the ball against an aggressive and determined Tiller team. Between the time of the Thompson touchdown and the start of the fourth quarter, Santa Margarita was limited to only 20 yards on 18 plays. The Eagle defense was keeping Santa Margarita in the game throughout the first and second quarters primarily by limiting the Tillers high powered running attack to a mere 19 yards rushing in the first quarter and only 71 in the second. However, QB David Miller, making his first start of the season, found TE Chris Chester alone down the middle of the field to complete a 64-yard touchdown pass with 1:49 left in the half to tie the score at seven and give the Tillers the momentum going into halftime.

The third quarter was an absolute disaster for the Eagles on offense, defense and special teams as they registered no first downs while allowing the Tillers to gain 162 yards and score 22 unanswered points. After receiving the second-half kickoff, the Tillers drove 86 yards on 12 plays capped by Rucker's first touchdown from two yards out. Rucker added a two-point conversion to increase the lead to 15-7 with 5:25 left in the quarter. The Eagles were forced to punt after three plays and McCoy raced in, blocked Matt Vogel's punt, and recovered in the endzone to give the Tillers a 22-7 lead at the 5:02 mark of the third quarter. After another Eagle punt, The Tillers went 76 yards on five plays capped by Rucker's 50-yard touchdown run at the 1:09 mark to make it 29-7. At the end of the third quarter, and with the game seemingly out of reach, the Eagles began working their weekly second half magic. Dlugolecki (14 of 23 for 163 yards and two Tds) hit Curtis Cooper three times on a 65-yard drive including a 41-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 29-14 with 11:08 left. After recovering the onsides kick, the Eagles drove as deep as the Tiller 33 before sacks on consecutive plays forced the Eagles to lose possession and their short lived momentum. Tustin's Ricky Miller added a 46-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter to close out the scoring.

Thompson, who had been extremely productive over the first four weeks could only manage 66 yards rushing on 12 attempts and just five yards on his other catch. However, Cooper provided an unexpected spark by catching a career-high six passes for 83 yards to earn Offensive Player of the Game honors. Defensively, sophomore FS Ashton White led the Eagles with a career-high 13 tackles while Anthony Bernal added seven. Alex Huston continued his strong year with six tackles, a sack and fumble recovery, while Ryan Whelan also recovered a fumble.

By Adrian Peters
Sports Information Director