Orange Lutheran 28 - Eagles 21

MISSION VIEJO, CA., October 6, 2023 – Trailing 28-7 to Orange Lutheran late in the third quarter, Santa Margarita Catholic made a run as it posted two touchdowns. Trent Mosley scored on a two-yard run just before the end of the period and quarterback John Gazzaniga scored on a 14-yard run to cut the lead to 28-21 with 3:10 remaining. The Lancers were able to march out of their territory and run the clock out to preserve a 28-21 victory. The Eagles actually took a 7-0 lead only to see the Lancers go on a 28-0 unanswered run over the next two quarters to take control. The duel was tied 7-7 at halftime before the OLu run.

Gazzaniga led an opening possession and then found Sean Embree on a lofty a 20-yard touchdown toss to cap a 64-yard scoring drive. It was Gazzaniga’s eighth touchdown in four games with SMC. Later a bit of trickery was invoked as offensive tackle Jacob Maiava scored on a two-yard run with 0:09 seconds left in the third. Gazzaniga then romped on a 14-yard run with 2:55 left in the contest as the Eagles as the Eagles fell short. SMC ended with 338 yards total yards of offense.

Statistical Highlights

  • John Gazzaniga: 15-of-31 (48.4%) passing, 227 yards and one touchdown and nine carries for 82 yards rushing (9.1 average) and one touchdown
  • Jack Junker: Six receptions for 83 yards (13.8 average)
  • Trent Mosley: Four receptions for 77 yards (19.3 average) and one rushing touchdown
  • Noah Sulick: 14 tackles (1 for loss) and one quarterback hurry
  • Trey Brown and Logan Hirou: One interception each
  • Hirou is tied for third in the CIF-Southern Section and tied for first in Orange County in pass interceptions with five.
Orange Lutheran 0 7 21 0 28
Santa Margarita 7 0 7 7 21

SM – Embree 20 pass from Gazzaniga (Gass kick)
OL – Lateef 1 run (Yonkers kick)
OL – Chavez 30 run (Yonkers kick)
OL – Flores 48 pass from Lateef (kick failed)
OL – Hensen 1 run (Lateef pass from Flores)
SM – Maiava 2 run (Gass kick)
SM – Gazzaniga 14 run (Gass kick)

Rushing: SM - Gazzaniga 9-82, Lendsey 5-26, Robinson 4-22; OLU - Chavez 23-120
Passing: SM - Gazzaniga 15-31-1-244; OLU - Lateef 22-30-2-288
Receiving: SM - Junker 6-83, Mosley 4-77; OLU - Flores Jr. 6-89, Gutierrez 4-88

Summary by Chuck Nan
Statistics by Shane Mielke


Orange Lutheran football defeats Santa Margarita with second-half surge

The Lancers use a 28-0 run to take control of the game and earn a critical win in the Trinity League.

MISSION VIEJO, CA., October 6, 2023 – In a grouping as challenging as the Trinity League, not all the intrigue involves the two national powerhouses who have dominated in recent years.

The race for third place and for playoff berths also provide drama, especially if there’s a transfer quarterback in the mix.

Santa Margarita and Orange Lutheran offered all those elements, and a few more, Friday at Saddleback College.

They dueled to a tie at halftime and a back-and-forth second half before the short-handed Lancers emerged with a much-needed 28-21 victory.

Orange Lutheran (4-3, 1-1), ranked fourth in Orange County, snapped a three-game losing streak and improved its chances of finishing at least .500 overall, a key ingredient for an at-large playoff spot.

“We needed it,” Orange Lutheran quarterback TJ Lateef said. “I don’t like losing and going on a three-game losing is kind of bad.”

“There was a lot of adversity on us. (We) had a lot of main pieces on the offense gone but (we) still had to step up.”

Santa Margarita (4-3, 0-2), ranked fifth in the county, dropped its second consecutive game in league.

The game pitted Santa Margarita quarterback John Gazzaniga against his former school whom he played for earlier this season.

The high-profile, in-season transfer was part of the pregame chatter, and the expected intensity spilled into game. In the end, however, the Lancers hugged the junior in the postgame handshake.

Orange Lutheran sacked Gazzaniga on the Eagles’ second possession but drew a personal foul on the play.

Gazzaniga capitalized by lofting a 20-yard touchdown pass to Sean Embree to cap a 64-yard scoring drive. It was Gazzaniga’s eighth touchdown in four games with Santa Margarita.

Orange Lutheran responded on the ensuing possession with an 87-yard scoring drive that Lateef punctuated with a 1-yard TD run early in the second quarter. On the play, the Eagles were flagged for a hit on Lateef.

The intensity continued later in the second period after Orange Lutheran intercepted a pass near the Lancers 20 with about five minutes left. After the tackle along the Orange Lutheran sideline, tempers briefly flared.

The Lancers, however, weren’t able to turn their second forced turnover into points as the score was locked 7-7 at halftime.

Orange Lutheran took its first lead early in the third quarter as running back Steve Chavez broke a 35-yard TD run for a 14-7 cushion.

The Lancers extended their advantage to 20-7 later in the third as Lateef fired a 45-yard TD strike to freshman wide receiver Chris Flores Jr.

Orange Lutheran capped a 28-0 scoring run by capitalizing on a pair of miscues on a Santa Margarita punt late in the third. Brayden Henson scored on a 1-yard TD run and Lateef caught the 2-point conversion from Flores to make it 28-7.

Gazzaniga led two scoring drives in the fourth quarter but the Lancers ran out the final 2:55.

Next week, Santa Margarita plays at JSerra on Oct. 13 while Orange Lutheran takes on Servite at Cerritos College.

By Dan Albano
Friday, October 6, 2023
The Orange County Register