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Record Quest Becoming an Up-Hill Battle : Prep football: Santa Ana fails to capitalize on scoring opportunities, and its 21-14 loss to Hawthorne leaves coach short of county mark.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Santa Ana High School committed three turnovers inside Hawthorne’s 35-yard line in the second half of a 21-14 loss Friday night that kept Coach Dick Hill’s quest for a career victory record on hold.

Hill was trying to become the king of the hill in Orange County, as he entered the game tied with former Loara Coach Herb Hill with 191 victories. He left the game encouraged with Santa Ana’s progress but nonetheless frustrated with its inability to score.

Hawthorne (2-0) recovered a fumble and had two interceptions in the second half to hold off Santa Ana. Santa Ana (0-2) dominated play in the second half but failed to dent a seven-point halftime deficit.

“We gave it away,” Hill said. “We didn’t hold onto the ball and our mistakes hurt us as much as anything. I still think we’re going to be a very good team once we gain some consistency.”

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A breakdown in the secondary and on the punt team cost Santa Ana two touchdowns in the first half and the Saints never recovered. Hawthorne scored its first touchdown with a trick play as quarterback Robert Morrissette took a snap on a punt play and tossed a 44-yard touchdown pass to John Garrett.

Hawthorne also got an easy score when a center snap sailed far over the head of Santa Ana punter Hector Perez. Perez eventually recovered the ball at his own nine-yard line and Hawthorne scored four plays later for an 18-7 lead.

Santa Ana quarterback Joey Martinez exemplified the Saints’ inconsistency, looking smooth on a 41-yard pass play to tight end Rudy Orojel that set up the Saints’ first score and then throwing two interceptions in the second half.

The most consistent player for Santa Ana was fullback-linebacker Kevin Pola. Pola gained 83 of his 93 yards in the second half, but his fumble at Hawthorne’s 35-yard line late in the third quarter killed a potential scoring drive.

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Pola repeatedly ran over tacklers for long gains, making the most of his eight carries, and impressed Hawthorne Coach Dan Robbins.

“The guy is even more incredible than he looked on film,” Robbins said. “They gained a lot of yardage in the second half, but our kids have a real intensity about them when a team gets near our goal line.

“Some would say we were in the right place at the right time, but we made our breaks tonight. We certainly got more turnovers than we lost.”

Hill, whose record dipped to 191-83-3 with Santa Ana’s second loss this season, may have to wait a while to break the tie with Herb Hill. Santa Ana meets powerful Mater Dei next week.

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