NEWPORT COAST — The Sage Hill School football team wasn't content just taking what its opponent gave it Friday night. The Lightning insisted on procuring plenty that visiting Animo Leadership never intended to concede in a 42-7 nonleague victory.
The Lightning (3-5) scored on all four first-quarter possessions and converted four of five Aztec Eagle turnovers into touchdowns to extend its winning streak to a season-high two games.
Included in that first-quarter blitz was a 22-yard fumble return for a touchdown by senior middle linebacker Michael Schidlovsky, marking the second straight week the Sage defense had scored.
The Lightning needed just three plays to convert two Beau Roth interceptions into touchdowns before halftime. And a fourth-quarter fumble recovery by Charlie Kim led to a two-play scoring drive for the winners.
Offensively, Sage drove 53 yards on 10 plays for a touchdown on its opening possession, then did just enough for the hosts to maintain control.
"We knew we had some monsters on our schedule," Sage Coach J.R. Tolver said. "It was one of those things where you want to play up to a certain level, so when it's time to play games that count and matter, you're in a good spot. For us, right now, we're in a good spot."
Friday was surely not a play-up situation for the Lightning, as Animo (2-7) came in surrendering 45.5 points per game.
But the Lightning certainly didn't play down, unless allowing a winding 51-yard touchdown run to Earl Moore on the fifth play of the fourth quarter could be considered such a lapse.
Moore had just picked up 28 yards on the previous play, producing 79 of the Aztec Eagles' 125 yards of total offense on two snaps, after Sage had built a 42-point cushion and began substituting liberally.
Animo did not complete a pass and fumbled 10 times, losing three.
Schidlovsky added a second fumble recovery and Thomas Fenner also pounced on a fumble for the Lightning, who did not allow the visitors to cross midfield until the aforementioned 51-yard scoring run with 8:28 left in the contest.
Senior outside linebacker David Fenner was a consistent catalyst for the smothering Sage Hill defense. The 5-foot-8, 150-pounder was a frequent visitor to the Animo backfield, either pressuring the quarterback or nailing ballcarriers for losses.
Senior defensive end Ford Hanour, junior end Sebastian Sadeghi and tackle Jason Cowan also halted Animo ballcarriers for negative yardage.
Thomas Fenner, a tight end, caught two passes for 51 yards, including a 27-yard scoring bomb from Taylor Petty that capped the first-quarter dominance.
Senior tailback Eric Cheng had a 27-yard touchdown run on his way to 55 yards on 11 rushing attempts, as Sage used 10 ballcarriers.
Petty completed five of nine passes for 62 yards, without an interception.
Sage Hill built momentum for its two final Academy League games, first at perennial league champion St. Margaret's on Friday, then at home against Brethren Christian on Nov. 11.
Sage, which won its league opener last week against Crean Lutheran, is looking to secure one of the four-team league's two guaranteed berths into the CIF Southern Section East Valley Division playoffs.
"We know this is the time of our season when we need to step it up," Thomas Fenner said. "I think we did tonight. We need to put our best foot forward [the next two weeks], just battle our butts off and see if we can make it happen."
Sage Hill 42, Animo Leadership 7
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Animo 0 – 0 – 0 – 7 — 7
Sage Hill 28 – 7 – 7 – 0 — 42
SH – Petty 8 run (kick failed), 6:27.
SH – Schidlovsky 22 fumble return (Melita kick), 5:29.
SH – Cheng 27 run (Petty run), 3:44.
SH – T. Fenner 27 pass from Petty (Melita kick), 0:20.
SH – Ascher 9 run (Melita kick), 4:19.
SH – Ray 20 run (Melita kick), 6:05.
AL – Moore 51 run (Callejas kick), 8:28.
AL – Moore, 10-98, 1 TD.
SH – Cheng, 11-55, 1 TD.
AL – Young, 0-9-2.
SH – Petty, 5-9-0, 62, 1 TD.
AL – None.
SH – T. Fenner, 2-51, 1 TD.