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Playoff hopes dimmed for Eagles

November 05, 2004

Rick Devereux

It is official. The Estancia High football team will not participate

in the CIF Southern Section Division VII playoffs for the fourth

straight year.

The Eagles lost, 26-12, to Golden West League rival Santa Ana at

the Santa Ana Bowl Thursday to officially put Estancia (3-6, 1-4 in

league) out of any chance of making the playoffs.

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A 10-yard touchdown run up the middle by Angel Hernandez with 6:15

remaining gave the Saints a 26-6 lead and effectively closed any hope

of an Estancia comeback. But the real daggers in the Eagles' hearts

were self-inflicted.

Estancia committed six turnovers, balanced by three fumbles and

three interceptions. The Eagles also recovered four of their own

fumbles, or Santa Ana (4-6, 2-3), might have had an even easier time.

"I don't care who you play, you can't beat anyone with six

turnovers," Coach Craig Fertig said.

Fumbles stalled the first two Estancia possessions. A fumbled

pitch on third-and-two dropped the Eagles to fourth-and-eight and a

fumbled toss on third-and-one forced Estancia to punt on

fourth-and-eight.

"When you fumble on the first two series like that, man, that

really kills you," Fertig said.

The Estancia offense looked out of sync for most of the game. With

regular starting tailback Bryce McKendry sidelined with a bruised

thigh, Daniel Cheesboro was given the keys to the offense. The first

nine Estancia plays gave the ball to Cheesboro. The senior transfer

from Costa Mesa looked strong, bouncing off tackles and leaning

forward for extra yards. But he hurt his knee with less than two

minutes remaining in the first half and did not return.

"We lost our two starting tailbacks," Fertig said. "We had two

fullbacks in the backfield for the rest of the game."

The Eagle running attack gained 105 yards, but averaged less than

3 per carry. Santa Ana averaged more than 5 yards per rushing attempt

en route to a 194-yard game.

Albert Partida took a sweep left, ran through one tackle and

bolted 53 yards for a touchdown on the Saints' first possession. Ryan

Sanford blocked the extra point to make it, 6-0.

Kyle Smith returned a punt 59 yards with 2:58 left in the second

quarter for Santa Ana's second score. Nelson Leon stuffed the

attempted two-point conversion run to make it 12-0.

The Eagles were forced to punt on their first possession of the

second half, but the snap was high. When the punter gathered the

ball, defenders knocked the ball out of his hands. Junior Takapu

plunged 3 yards for a touchdown on the next play. A conversion kick

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