One mistake.

The way El Toro Coach Mike Milner sees it, the Charger defense made one mistake Friday night against Savanna in a Southern Section Division V first-round playoff game at Trabuco Hills High.

But that is one mistake Milner could smile about after El Toro defeated Savanna, 24-14, to advance to the second round against Villa Park.

The Chargers’ “mistake” came on Savanna’s first possession of the second half. With the score tied, 7-7, Savanna’s Eric Shine stepped left around the line of scrimmage on the first play of the drive and broke into open field for an 84-yard touchdown run.


But fortunately for the Chargers, that run was most of the damage that Shine, the county’s leading rusher, would wreak in the game. He rushed for 146 yards, but only 47 in the first half.

“We did an acceptable job in the first half and that was our goal,” Milner said.

And as for the 84-yard mistake?

“He’s a great back,” Milner said.

After Michael Smith returned the ensuing kickoff 13 yards, Savanna was called for a face-mask penalty to set up El Toro at its 33-yard line.

Quarterback Steve Krupp rushed for five yards and Richard Oates ran for a total of 11 on the next two plays before Krupp connected with Smith for a nine-yard pass, and Oates ran for one more yard to the 39 yard-line, where the Chargers faced fourth-down and one.

The Chargers (9-2) turned to big-play man Murle Sango, who did not disappoint, gaining three yards for a first down and another six on the next play.

Oates then scored the first of his two touchdowns on a 30-yard run, and Chad Johnson made the extra point to tie it with 5 minutes 23 seconds to play in the third quarter.

Johnson kicked a 38-yard field goal on the Chargers’ next possession to give them the lead with 7:53 to play.

Savanna (7-4), which plays most of its starters on both offense and defense, began to wear down after that as quarterback Brandon Warden tossed several desperation passes.

“We had been preaching to our kids all week that we thought conditioning would be the ultimate factor,” Milner said. “We thought we would win it in the third and fourth quarters and that is what transpired.”

With less than three minutes remaining, El Toro got the ball and Oates broke through the line for a 25-yard run to the Savanna 45. On the next play, he broke up the middle for a touchdown with 1:53 to play to put the game out of reach.

“I was just ready to run the time out and luckily I saw a hole and ran out and broke it,” Oates said.

Oates finished with 151 yards in 14 carries and two touchdowns.