With a share of the Century League lead on the line, Santa Ana and Foothill high schools played a rough and tumble game Friday. Santa Ana got rough and Foothill tumbled.
The Saint defense was in top form, while the offense picked its spots in a 21-6 victory in front of 3,000 at Santa Ana Stadium.
The victory kept alive the Saints' hopes of a fourth consecutive league championship. They will be no worse than tied for first place with either Villa Park or Santa Ana Valley, who play tonight.
It was also the fourth consecutive year that Santa Ana (7-2 overall, 3-1 in league play) had defeated Foothill. Only a week ago, the Knights (4-5, 2-2) were on top of the league with a 2-0 record, but back-to-back losses to Santa Ana Valley and Santa Ana have left their playoff hopes in jeopardy.
The victory was secured by a fierce defense, which limited Foothill to 20 yards passing and 153 total yards.
Knight quarterback John Shanahan completed only four of 19 passes. But, in his defense, he had little time to throw.
Shanahan did pick up 60 yards rushing, but most of that was gained while running away from pass rushers. He was sacked three times, twice by Oswaldo Guerra.
The Saint defense gave the offense time to right itself after a sluggish start. Santa Ana let a couple of opportunities get away early in the game.
The Saints finally took the lead just before halftime on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Jesse Rosas to Gus Valencia.
"We were getting nowhere running the ball," Rosas said. "I told the coaches we should throw more. Going into the game, I was expecting to throw more. Once we started doing that, everything was fine."
Rosas loosened up the Foothill defense. He completed 7 of 13 passes for only 105 yards, but threw for 2 touchdowns.
Rosas also rushed for 62 yards, including a crucial 46-yard run that set up the Saints second touchdown.
In the third quarter, Foothill's Nick Sanfilippo recovered a Rosas fumble on the 17 and, six plays later, Shanahan scored on a 6-yard run to cut the Saint lead to 7-6.
Foothill appeared to have the Saints stopped on their next possession. But, on third down, Rosas burst up the middle on a quarterback draw for 46 yards to the Foothill 32. Rosas capped the drive with a 10-yard fade pass to Octavio Medina, who made an over-the-shoulder catch in the back of the end zone.