Yards were tough to come by in Santa Ana High School’s 24-6 victory over Foothill Friday night in front of 1,000 at Tustin High.
Santa Ana gained a total of 99 yards in the first half and still led, 10-0, primarily because Foothill managed just 18 yards. The defenses ruled the Century League opener for both teams.
Neither team could run effectively and big gains were few and far between.
Passing proved to be an exercise in futility for Foothill, which, until it mounted a fourth-quarter scoring drive, had 21 yards passing on 2 of 14 attempts. Quarterback Tom Hawkins finished with 71 yards, completing 5 of 19 attempts.
But Santa Ana (3-3) was able to hit a little harder, run a little faster and take advantage of rare scoring opportunities.
The Saints, who finished with 181 total yards, got two big scoring plays from swift runing back/defensive back Estrus Crayton. Santa Ana also blocked two field goal tries by Foothill kicker Courtney Keyler and limited the Knights (2-4) to 117 total yards.
The big plays helped Santa Ana end a 3-game losing streak.
“We need that (a victory) very definitely,” Santa Ana Coach Dick Hill said.
Starting with a 20-yard punt return by Gus Valencia that set up a 37-yard field goal by Gustavo Placentia, the Saints took control and never faltered. At least not defensively.
The Saints’ Oscar Wilson, Javier Rangel, Damon Bland and Travis Lane, among others, pinned down the Foothill running backs. Brian Chodowski fared the best for the Knights, gaining 35 yards in 12 carries.
The Saints had only slightly better success. Santa Ana’s Crayton had a game-high 59 yards in 9 carries.
Santa Ana pushed its lead to 10-0 at halftime, mounting what turned out to be the only sustained drive of the game.
Starting from its 37 with 4 minutes 33 seconds left in the half, Santa Ana drove 63 yards for a touchdown. Quarterback Dan Tuioti, who completed 5 of 9 passes for 55 yards, scored on a 3-yard sneak with 40 seconds left.
The second half provided Crayton with two opportunities to showcase his considerable talents.
On the Saints’ third series of the third quarter, Crayton scored on a 29-yard run that boosted the lead to 17-0.
Crayton was able to take advantage of one of the few large holes created by his offensive line, heading straight up the middle, then cutting left and slipping down the sideline for the score.
He topped that with a 50-yard interception return for a touchdown with 5:03 left in the game, giving Santa Ana a 24-0 lead.