May 27, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PHOTOS: Late field goal lifts Santa Ana to thrilling 36-34 comeback win over Orange for league title

Santa Ana head coach Charlie TeGantvoort joins his players after Friday’s comeback win. (Photos courtesy Fernando M. Donado, For OC Sports Zone)

Santa Ana High School’s football team captured the Orange Coast League title Friday night in dramatic fashion with a come-from-behind 36-34 victory over league rival Orange at the Santa Ana Bowl.

Anthony Gomez kicked a 19-yard field goal with 4.9 seconds left to lift the Saints to their sixth straight win in the abbreviated spring season. Santa Ana trailed 34-33 and rallied a drive to set up the kick. Both teams were undefeated at 5-0 coming into the game and for the last five years have battled for the coveted league title back and forth in the fourth quarter.

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Saints quarterback Angel Vega kept the game-winning drive alive after Santa Ana got the ball back on its own 39-yard line with two minutes left. Vega completed 13 of 19 passes for 293 yards and three touchdowns and also rushed for 112 yards on 19 carries and one touchdown.

“We came out, followed our game plan, and played our heart out,” Vega said. “I knew that they were going to start dropping back, and that all the in gap runs were going to be open. I just tried to react as fast as possible and try to make plays (to react to blitzes).”

Orange was led by quarterback Daylen Pedroza, who capped his tremendous career with a big night. He had three passing touchdowns (two to Kobe Boykin, and one to Alex Quinteros) and also rushed for one. Isaac Adetoye also rushed for a touchdown for the Panthers during the first quarter.

“That was a great game, what a finale to just a hard year for everybody,” said Santa Ana Coach Charlie TeGantvoort, who reached his 60th victory at the helm of the Saints. “We told everybody this was going to be the game to watch. Both teams played great. It was a great finale, I’m proud of both teams. Santa Ana, we play hard and we play with passion and Santa Ana is built on love.

“We’re so happy with an undefeated league championship, we brought the league championship back to Santa Ana. I’m so proud of these seniors, these boys. They went through so much adversity. About 90 percent of our kids have jobs right after practice and they still find a way to give all they have every day with a smile on their faces and I couldn’t be more proud to be a Saint.”

Santa Ana also got big games from Jason Costa, who rushed for 44 yards on 17 carries and had five catches for 98 yards and a touchdown. Pablo Perez had five catches for 58 yards, including one that extended the game-winning drive on a fourth down conversion. Gomez had one catch for 53 yards (a touchdown catch in the third quarter) and Isaac Larriva had one TD catch for 41 yards.

“At the end of the day, it was down to that fourth quarter,” Perez said. “It was all on the line. Our seniors, we fought hard. We didn’t even know we were going to have a season, so to end it like that, it was an honor and a pleasure to have it like that. That’s for my team.”

“Our coach gave us a beautiful game plan, we’ve been practicing for it all week,” added Costa. “We came out here and gave it our all, our last everything, our last effort.”

Orange Coach Robert Pedroza said he was proud of his squad’s effort, but credited Santa Ana.

“They played a great game, they came out ready to play and they beat us tonight,” he said.

Pedroza praised the effort of his quarterback, Daylen Pedroza.

“He left everything out there, he did a great job,” Coach Pedroza said. “There’s nothing more you can ask of him. It was a good football game.”

Both teams were tied 14-14 at halftime, but left nothing behind in the second half in what was truly a game worthy of a league championship.

—-Courtesy Fernando M. Donado, For OC Sports Zone