Santa Maria High tailback Brad Dandridge scored on runs of 1, 1 and 8 yards Friday night as the Saints beat Chaminade, 19-15, and knocked the Eagles out of the Southern Section Division VII playoffs.
Dandridge, who gained 124 yards in 37 carries, said that the Chaminade defense had jelled since the teams last met 7 weeks ago.
“I guess you could say that last game they just weren’t prepared,” Dandridge said of the Eagles (8-4), who lost the first meeting by 28 points. “They didn’t know what to expect.”
But then Santa Maria (11-1) did not expect quite a load from Chaminade workhorse Colin Havert, who gained 113 yards in 21 carries. Havert had led the Eagles over North Torrance last week, rushing for 178 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Chaminade looked as if it was in good shape late in the third quarter when a fumble by Saint receiver Abdul Lewis was recovered by the Eagles at the Chaminade 19-yard line with the Eagles clinging to a 15-13 lead.
On the following play, however, quarterback Greg Baumgartner fumbled as he was dropping back to pass.
The Saints recovered at the 13 and 2 plays later, Dandridge ran 8 yards to give Santa Maria the margin of victory, 19-15.
The failure to capitalize was difficult for Chaminade Coach Rich Lawson to swallow.
“Gosh, darn it, you can’t give them those chances,” Lawson said. “I don’t know that we were sloppy, there was just a lot of emotion.”
The emotion swung in the Eagles’ direction on their first drive of the second half.
Chaminade began its first series of the third quarter at its 38. Havert began with a pair of 9-yard runs, Baumgartner hit receiver Jeff Burdick with a 21-yard pass over the middle and then Havert ran for 2.
With 8:38 remaining in the quarter, Burdick ran a corner route and made a diving catch in the end zone of a 20-yard Baumgartner pass to give Chaminade a 15-13 lead. Sandy Hayes’ PAT attempt was blocked.
Santa Maria had taken a 13-9 lead in the first half when Dandridge scored on a dive from a yard out.
The drive was launched after Chaminade gave Havert the ball for the 14th time in the half. Havert was hit by linebacker Jim Adkisson and fumbled, the Saints recovering at their own 14-yard line.
The Saints gave the ball to Dandridge 5 consecutive times until he finally punched it in with 4:03 remaining in the half.
Chaminade had taken a 9-7 lead with 44 seconds left in the first quarter when its drive stalled at the Saint 26 and Hayes booted a 44-yard field goal. The kick capped an 8-play, 54-yard march.
The Saints’ first score came in the first quarter when Dandridge capped a 7-play, 45-yard drive with a 1-yard run.