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Cheng leads Sage Hill to easy win

High School Football

Running back rushes for 172 yards and two scores, as Lightning's offense does as it pleases against Fairmont Prep.

September 03, 2011|By Steve Virgen, steve.virgen@latimes.com

NEWPORT COAST — Just before halftime, there was a contest for who could come up with the best nickname for Sage Hill School's offense during its season opener Friday night.

The second-place nickname: Cheng Reaction, a play on the last name of senior Eric Cheng. He wasn't the entire offense, but after watching him against Fairmont Prep, you would understand the clever moniker.

Cheng ran for 172 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries to help the Lightning score a 48-6 win at Sage Hill's Ramer Field.

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"I knew Cheng would come out and play well. He's too good of an athlete," Sage Hill Coach J.R. Tolver said. "He's going to help us in a lot of ball games."

It was Cheng's debut as the Lightning's lead running back. He didn't disappoint.

Cheng said he liked the nickname and it made him laugh a bit. Truth be told, Cheng said his nickname is Choo, Choo. Call him the Cheng Train, and he was running at full speed against the Huskies.

"This can set the tone for the rest of the season," Cheng said of the Lightning's performance. "Playing like this does give us confidence and gets the momentum going."

Cheng reached the century mark on his 13th carry, producing an 11-yard TD run that gave Sage Hill a 35-0 lead after Joe Melita's point-after kick. The Lightning were in full control. But they were on their way to domination from the start, building a 21-0 lead in the first quarter.

By halftime, the winning nickname seemed apt: The Green Machine.

Quarterback Taylor Petty is the one directing the machine. He opened with a big play for the Lightning. Cheng lined up as the quarterback in shotgun formation and pitched it back to Petty who was near the home sideline. Petty then launched a deep pass to tight end Ford Hanour for a 66-yard reception.

Sage Hill drove to the Fairmont 2-yard line, where it would score on fourth down. Petty came through again. This time, he lined up as a wide receiver, where he played last year. Harrison Ray threw the touchdown to Petty on a quick slant.

The Lightning's offense wasn't the whole story. At halftime, Sage Hill held Fairmont Prep to 21 yards and just one first down.

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