Late-arriving El Toro football fans typically don't miss much, but they sure don't want to miss the second half.
As they are wont to do, the Chargers came alive after halftime. This time they rallied to defeat Santa Margarita, 20-14, in a Sea View League game before about 8,000 at Saddleback College.
The victory gave the Chargers (7-1, 3-0 in league) first place in league. The Eagles fell to 6-2, 2-1 and second place.
El Toro scored on a four-yard run by Murle Sango with 10 minutes 56 seconds to play in the fourth quarter to take the lead, 17-14, and Chad Johnson kicked a 42-yard field goal with 46 seconds to play to seal the victory.
"We have been playing really well in the second half all year," Coach Mike Milner said. "When we need critical drives and we need to get yardage, we seem to do it."
Trailing, 7-3, Sango returned the second-half kickoff 25 yards to the 31-yard line. Steve Krupp and Sango worked together to lead the Chargers 48 yards downfield, setting up Sango's leaping 19-yard touchdown reception that put El Toro ahead, 10-7.
Santa Margarita struck back, however, with the aid of two, 15-yard pass interference calls against El Toro on the Eagles' next possession. Chris Collins dove over the top on a one-yard scoring play to give the Eagles back the lead, 14-10.
But Sango took the kickoff 19 yards giving the Chargers the ball at their 23-yard line. On the next play he carried the ball 12 yards before being tackled by Matt Nickels at the 35-yard line and El Toro was off and running. Five plays later, the Chargers were given a boost by a pass interference call against the Eagles and three plays after that, they converted on third and three. Krupp's 12-yard pass to Adam Foellmi moved El Toro to the four, and Sango ran it in to give the Chargers the lead, 17-14.
Outside linebacker Matt Steinau almost single-handedly stopped Santa Margarita on their next possession, coming up with a sack of Collins for a loss of four and stripping the ball from the hands of receiver Eric Brown on fourth and three to give El Toro the ball back on downs with a little more than a minute remaining. That incomplete pass proved to be the key to the game.
"He's has been a big-play guy for us all year," Milner said.
The Chargers took over at their 35-yard line and drove downfield to set up Johnson's field goal which sealed the victory. Johnson also had a 28-yard field goal in the second quarter and hit the end zone with all five of his kickoffs.
In the first quarter, Santa Margarita's Billy O'Connor reached up and intercepted Krupp's first pass of the game and returned it three yards to the El Toro 22-yard line. On the next play from scrimmage, Collins was sacked by outside linebacker Mike McAdam for a 10-yard loss.
But Collins bounced back on the next play and passed over the middle to O'Connor for a 32-yard scoring play.