Tartan football knocked off 2X South Coast League champions Orange High School 28-22 Friday night at Fred Kelly Stadium in Orange.
The Tartans got off to a quick start, scoring on their opening drive with a 14-yard touchdown strike from Max Ruff (23 for 33, 261 yds, 3TD) to Russel Frye (9 rec for 135 yds, 2 TD). The Panthers were immediately put on the back foot as St. Margaret's recovered an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff. The recovery set up a 21-yard scramble for a touchdown for Ruff, propelling the Tartans to a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter. Ruff found a streaking running back Matt Arena (5 receptions for 28 yards, 1 TD) for a 7-yard touchdown before the halftime whistle, with the Tartans leading the Panthers 20-8.
The Tartan defense weathered a relentless Orange attack in the third quarter, limiting the Panthers to just one score and keeping St. Margaret's in control throughout the half. Led By Battle Gideons (6 solo tackles, 8 assists, .5 sacks), Luke Newman (5 solo, 3 assist, 1 interception), Jack Klausner (2 solo, 5 assist) and Sebastian Salazar (2 solo, 5 assist) kept Orange in check throughout the second half.
The fourth quarter proved to be a wild finish, with the Tartans jumping ahead 28-14, with Ruff finding Frye for a score and then hitting Will Viola for the 2-point conversion. The Panthers responded and punched one in to make it 28-22 St. Margaret's with 8:22 left to play. The Tartans ate as much clock up as possible behind the hard running of Matt Arena (92 yards rushing on 21 attempts) and the offensive line of Jerry Gao, Jack Wagner, Cooper DeVries, Danny Lowenthal and Anthony Gallo. Still, the Panthers threatened late in the game before Angel-Cruz-Sanchez sealed it for the Tartans, pulling down an interception on Orange's last-gasp attempt.
"A phenomenal win for the Tartan football program and the school community," said St. Margaret's head coach Dan O'Shea. "Orange HS has long been the standard of excellence within the Orange Coast league, and we are thrilled to walk away with such a hard-fought victory for the players of St. Margaret's."
The 2-4, 1-1 in league Tartans return to the gridiron on Friday, Sept. 29, to face Estancia at home. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Photo courtesy Wendy Ballard.