SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — Fans at the football game between St. Margaret's and Sage Hill thought they had endured the worst of the rain Friday night.
Mother Nature had other plans. A downpour started minutes before kickoff, just as the host Tartans were about to take the field.
It wasn't too bad. The rain stopped midway through the first quarter.
The Tartans' reign over the Lightning continues.
St. Margaret's sophomore quarterback Josh Davis threw five touchdown passes, four to senior Byron Manzo, as the Tartans rolled over Sage, 38-3, in a meeting of Academy League rivals. St. Margaret's has still never lost to Sage Hill in 10 varsity meetings.
St. Margaret's (7-2, 2-0 in league), ranked No. 4 in the CIF Southern Section East Valley Division, moves into sole possession of first place in league with one game to go. The Tartans are going for their ninth straight title.
Sage Hill (3-6, 1-1) still can clinch at least a top-two finish in the four-team league, and a playoff spot, by beating Brethren Christian at home Friday. Brethren Christian and Crean Lutheran (both 0-1 in league) play Saturday.
"Next week, our last game of the season, our senior night, we still have everything on the table," Sage Hill Coach J.R. Tolver said. "Everything that we've worked for since February is still in play."
Friday night's game looked in play, too, at least early. The Lightning's Thomas Fenner recovered a St. Margaret's fumble on the Tartans' second play from scrimmage, and Sage worked the ball downfield. Joe Melita kicked a 34-yard field goal to give Sage a 3-0 lead.
The Lightning also stopped the Tartans on their second series.
"I don't know if we exactly matched their intensity at the beginning, or if we were too wired up," St. Margaret's Coach Rod Baltau said. "They came out and they were ready to play."
But Sage was hurt by a bad snap late in the first quarter. The ball sailed over the punter's head and St. Margaret's took over at the Lightning 26-yard line. Four plays later, Davis found Martin Burke on fourth down for an eight-yard touchdown pass.
"We're about to put ourselves back in position to play defense, which we've done for two drives, and we snap it over our kicker's head and they get the ball on the ," Tolver said. "It's hard to stop a good team when you give them that. Little things like that. We didn't have a bunch of bad plays, but we had bad plays at the wrong time. If you're playing against a good football team, they'll make you pay for it, and St. Margaret's is a good football team."
From there, the Lightning were smothered on offense. They only managed one big play on offense the entire game, a 20-yard run by senior Eric Cheng.
St. Margaret's, meanwhile, continued moving the ball in the passing game with a big target: the 6-foot-5 Manzo.
Baltau said Manzo is in his first year playing football. But you can't teach size, and at times Manzo exploited his size advantage against Sage Hill's cornerbacks. Other times, Davis just found him on precise slant passes over the middle and he looked impossible to stop from striding down the field.
Manzo caught 11 of Davis' 13 completions, for 163 yards. By the time Manzo caught his fourth and longest touchdown pass, a 47-yarder midway through the third quarter, St. Margaret's was up, 35-3, and the rout was on.
"He came out and we had to teach him everything, absolutely everything," Baltau said. "He's just developed … He keeps getting better. Every ball in his area is his ball now. College coaches are going to have to start looking at him, right? I mean, it's kind of like very, very obvious that he should be playing on Saturdays somewhere."
What is obvious to the Lightning is that they need to win next week.
St. Margaret's 38, Sage Hill 3
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Sage Hill 3 – 0 – 0 – 0 — 3
St. Margaret's 0 – 21– 14 – 3 — 38
SH – Melita 31 FG, 4:31.
SM – Burke 8 pass from Davis (Gencarella kick), 10:00.
SM – Manzo 3 pass from Davis (Gencarella kick), 6:21.
SM – Manzo 20 pass from Davis (Gencarella kick), 1:10.
SM – Manzo 10 pass from Davis (Gencarella kick), 6:06.
SM – Manzo 47 pass from Davis (Gencarella kick), 5:13.
SM – Gencarella 33 FG, 12:00.
SH – Cheng, 13-36.
SM – Iizuka, 13-75.
SH – Petty, 9-16-1, 22.
SM – Davis, 13-21-0, 184, 5 TDs.
SH – Ray, 2-11.
SM – Manzo, 11-163, 4 TDs.