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Tuioti and Hicks Power Saints Past Saddleback

Times Staff Writer

When Saddleback High School did something noteworthy against Santa Ana Friday night, a small group of Roadrunner fans would toss handfuls of confetti into the air. A nice pick-me-up for the Santa Ana Stadium clean-up crew, no doubt.

But it wasn’t a common occurrence.

The biggest thing getting trashed was Saddleback, which could do little right in losing, 30-6, to Santa Ana before 5,200 fans.

“They just dominated us,” Saddleback Coach Jerry Witte said. “They are such a physical team with great speed. Their offensive and defensive lines are so dominating. I’m glad we don’t have to play them again. We had some moments, but they just brought it to us all night long.”

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What Santa Ana brought was an bevy of running backs that seemed to keep coming out of the woodwork. Though Robert Lee, the speedster who terrorized Santa Ana opponents for three years, has graduated, the Saints’ ground game didn’t miss a beat. Eight backs combined for 316 yards, led by quarterback Dan Tuioti, who ran seven times for 84 yards.

The way Tuioti ran the option was the difference in a Santa Ana offense that often sputtered. His speed and ability to run for the tough yards off-guard and off-tackle kept many drives alive.

“He’s the key to their offense, and he showed what kind of player he is,” White said.

But Tuioti was not Santa Ana’s only weapon. Running backs Garner Hicks (10 rushes for 90 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Estrus Crayton (12 for 84) took turns touring the Saddleback secondary.

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On its second possession, Santa Ana marched 76 yards in 11 plays to take a 7-0 lead. After averaging seven yards a snap on the ground, Tuioti went to the air, tossing seven yards to Oscar Wilson for the touchdown. Gustavo Placentia kicked the first of his four extra points.

Hicks scored twice in the second quarter to give Santa Ana a 21-0 lead at the half. He capped a 4-play, 63-yard drive on a one-yard touchdown dive with 11:04 left, and scored on a seven-yard trap play with 4:21 remaining.

In the second half, the Saints floundered on offense, mostly because they fumbled twice and committed some untimely penalties.

But the Santa Ana defense continued its domination.

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“They just kept coming after us, play after play,” White said.

Linebacker Damon Bland sacked Saddleback quarterback Jeff Blanco twice, but he was in his face all night. Partly because of his pres sure--and some good secondary play--Santa Ana held Saddleback to a net of 40 yards total offense, including minus 7 on the ground.


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