June 25, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Santa Ana captures wild, high scoring Orange Coast League opener against St. Margaret’s

Santa Ana’s top players included (from left) quarterback Sergio Torres, defensive end Troy Alvarez, running back Charles Hughes and tackle Christian Murillo. (Photos: Tom Connolly, For OC Sports Zone).

The offenses were on display Thursday night in the Orange Coast League football opener between St. Margaret’s and Santa Ana at Santa Ana Stadium.

When the dust cleared and the offensive shootout ended, Saints running back Charles Hughes had rushed for a career high 292 yards and scored a career best five touchdowns as the Saints came away with an impressive 49-36 victory.

“The credit goes to the offensive line; we ran heavy tonight and they executed,” said Hughes, who carried the ball 29 times.  

The Saints (3-2 overall) and Tartans (1-4 overall) both showcased explosive attacks as the two teams combined to roll up 668 total yards in the first-half and 931 for the game.

Hughes was unstoppable as he rushed for 243 yards and four touchdowns in the opening 24 minutes. The senior running back scored on runs of 22, 24, 80 and two yards as Santa Ana built a 28-24 halftime lead. Hughes added his fifth TD of the game in the fourth-quarter on a short run that gave Santa Ana a 42-24 lead.

“We haven’t had a back as explosive as Charles in a long time; he can take a shot at any time; if you give him an inch, he will take a mile,” said Saints Coach Rory Schoonmaker. “Our offensive line was outstanding; they sunk their teeth into it. Sergio (Torres) also had an outstanding game.”

“It’s amazing that our back ran for that many yards and scored that many touchdowns, we’re letting everybody know you have to be careful with Santa Ana,” said offensive tackle Christian Murillo.

To see additional photos, click on the first picture:

The Tartans were led in the opening half behind the arm of quarterback Max Ruff, who completed 12 passes for 254 yards. He threw TD passes of 12, 78 and 16 yards to Will Viola, Maverick Young and Sam Orellana respectively.   

Trailing 21-14 with just over five minutes to play in the first-half, Hughes blasted around left end and raced 80 yards to tie the score at 21-21. On the following series, the Saints defense stopped the Tartans on a fourth-down play near midfield.

Santa Ana took advantage of the opportunity and marched 52 yards in six plays, capped off by Hughes’ fourth TD of the game, a two-yard run with 52 seconds remaining in the half.  St. Margaret’s rallied and cut the lead to 28-24 on the final play of the half on a 31-field goal by Nathaniel Kim.

The Santa Ana defense held the Tartans scoreless in the third quarter sparked by two key sacks by defensive lineman Troy Alvarez. The Saints led 35-24 after three quarters.

“The difference was that we focused on their quarterback in the second-half and our d-backs did a good job,” said Alvarez. “However, we have to get on track defensively earlier in the game going forward.”

Torres threw for 114 yards and a touchdown and he rushed for 48 yards and a touchdown. Ruff was also outstanding as the senior QB completed 19 passes for 317 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 76 yards and scored two touchdowns.   

“We had our hands full with number one tonight (Charles Hughes),” said St. Margaret’s Coach Dan O’Shea. “We expected to play better in our first league game tonight, but give Rory and his staff credit, they were the better team tonight. We have to learn from this loss and get better.”

Santa Ana also got strong games from Cristan Ramos (three catches for 76 yards and a touchdown), and running backs Jonny Dominguez and Gabriel Ramirez Flores. The Saints running backs totaled 415 yards on the ground.

St. Margaret’s held the lead three times in the first-half and were led by Will Viola and Russell Frye, who caught 14 passes for a combined 222 yards and a TD.

The Tartans took the opening kickoff and marched 62 yards in four plays to take an early 7-0 lead. The Saints countered on their first possession moving 80-yards in 11-plays to tie the game at 7-7. Hughes capped the drive with a 22-yard TD run  at the 5:15 mark of the opening quarter.

Late in the quarter, Ruff tossed a 78-yard TD pass to Maverick Young. Hughes added his second touchdown of the game on a 24-yard run midway through the second quarter to even the score at 14-14. Ruff scrambled and hit Sam Orellana with a short pass and he broke several tackles before rambling in to the end zone to give the Tartans a 21-14 lead.

On the Saints first play on the ensuing possession, Hughes blasted around left and outran the secondary en route to a 80-yard TD run, his third of the game, tying the score at 21-21.

—Tom Connolly, For OC Sports Zone