Santa Ana too much for Estancia in Orange Coast League opener
Estancia wasted its opportunities and struggled to contain Santa Ana’s balanced attack, laboring through a disappointing Orange Coast League opener Friday night following a promising run through its nonleague opposition.
The Eagles, who might have arrived with a perfect record but for a difficult encounter in densely foggy Lake Arrowhead three weeks ago, fell behind quickly, missed out on a couple of chances to keep things tight, then watched the visiting league title favorites pull away after the break to a 40-7 romp.
Sergio Torres tossed two touchdown passes to Adrian Sanchez — the second on a leaping, one-handed grab in the end zone — and ran for two more as the Saints (4-2 overall, 2-0 in league) amassed 423 yards on offense, 286 of that on the ground.
Charles Hughes rushed for 151 yards on 13 carries, and Santa Ana scored on all but one of seven possessions to beat Estancia for the sixth successive meeting, all by at least 30 points, since returning from the Golden West League in 2018.
“They’re pretty good,” Eagles head coach Mike Bargas said. “We made too many mistakes tonight. We squandered opportunities, and we had our chance. We could have kept this game tight, but we had some miscues and lack of focus and really stupid penalties, and it cost us. Against a team this good, you can’t do that.”
Santa Ana took command of the league race as defending champion Orange lost to St. Margaret’s, which was beaten by the Saints last week. Santa Ana Calvary Chapel also is 2-0 but isn’t expected to give Santa Ana, Orange or St. Margaret’s a serious challenge. Estancia’s game with Calvary Chapel, on Oct. 20, could determine the Orange Coast League’s fourth guaranteed berth in the CIF Southern Section playoffs.
The Eagles (3-2) moved the ball effectively but inconsistently, making three or more first downs on four of five drives in the first three quarters, and twice reached the red zone in the second quarter without getting any points. They also failed to take advantage of Santa Ana penalties — the Saints were flagged 11 times for 127 yards and five Estancia first downs — and were penalized for false starts six times.
“We knew it was going to be hard coming in,” said Estancia quarterback Riley Witte, who was chased from the pocket nearly every snap, was sacked three times — twice in the red zone — and finished 13 of 26 for 152 yards. “We just tried to keep getting into the red zone, because we thought we could get in and score a couple of times and keep it close, but it didn’t work out.”
Torres, a third-year starter, was impactful all evening. He ran for 13 yards on fourth-and-1 en route to the first touchdown, his 1-yard push capping a 14-play, 77-yard drive off the opening kickoff for a 6-0 lead. When the Saints got the ball back, Hughes broke one tackle and outsprinted most of Estancia’s defense for a 62-yard gain, and Torres found Sanchez open in the end zone for a 16-yard score two plays later.
The Eagles got to the Santa Ana 7 on their next drive — a 60-yard Witte-to-Joseth Zarate-Groth pass was key — before an 11-yard sack and end-zone incompletion forced a 27-yard Steve Sanchez field-goal attempt that sailed wide right. Santa Ana quickly made it 20-0, with Torres completing two fourth-down passes to Cristian Ramos before Hughes, who had 100 first-quarter rushing yards, scored from the 5-yard line.
Estancia got to the Saints’ 14 on a 17-play march in the final three minutes of the half, but two incompletions and a fourth-down sack ended that.
The Eagles got their touchdown on their second possession of the third quarter, with Witte completing five of six passes on a 74-yard drive — the miss a dropped ball — and scoring from the 1-yard line. No momentum was derived from that: Santa Ana answered within two and a half minutes, on Torres’ 6-yard run, then pulled away with Sanchez’s spectacular 25-yard catch and Carlos Guerrero’s 3-yard run with 95 seconds to go.
Orange Coast League
Santa Ana 40, Estancia 6
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Santa Ana 13 - 7 - 6 - 14 — 40
Estancia 0 - 0 - 6 - 0 — 6
SA — Torres 1 run (kick failed), 6:27.
SA — Sanchez 16 pass from Torres (Dominguez kick), 2:10.
SA — Hughes 1 run (Dominguez kick), 3:44.
E — Witte 1 run (kick failed), 3:18.
SA — Torres 2 run (kick failed), 0:46.5.
SA — Sanchez 25 pass from Torres (Dominguez kick), 8:44.
SA — C. Guerrero 3 run (Dominguez kick), 1:35.
SA — Hughes, 13-151, 1 TD.
E — I. Brown, 18-58.
SA — Torres, 8-13-0, 137, 2 TDs.
E — Witte, 13-26-0, 152.
SA — Sanchez, 5-77, 2 TDs.
E — Zarate-Groth, 5-86.
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