Christian drops state semis

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Ominous rain fell to the turf at Granite Hills High School before the Christian Patriots hosted the St. Margaret’s (San Juan Capistrano) Tartans on Friday. Both teams won their respective CIF Section title and the winner would punch their ticket to the state championship.

It was the Tartans, however, that will be making the trip to Carson after defeating Christian, 48-21.

St. Margaret’s senior linebacker Dalan Cragun put it simply.

Ominous rain fell to the turf at Granite Hills High School before the Christian Patriots hosted the St. Margaret’s (San Juan Capistrano) Tartans on Friday. Both teams won their respective CIF Section title and the winner would punch their ticket to the state championship.

It was the Tartans, however, that will be making the trip to Carson after defeating Christian, 48-21.

St. Margaret’s senior linebacker Dalan Cragun put it simply.

“(The Patriots are) a good team,” he said. “They’ve got a good offense, they’ve got a good scheme and they’ve got some stud players over there but we just shut ‘em down.”

Christian seemed to be off to a hot start after receiving the opening kickoff. Twice the Tartans were able to force fourth down, but both times junior running back Adrian Petty was able to run for a first down, including a three-yard fake punt on fourth-and-2 from the Patriots’ own 28-yard line.  Even the rain stood down halfway through drive.

St. Margaret’s finally stopped Christian on third-and-goal from the three-yard line when Petty was taken down for a five-yard loss.

Patriot kicker Kyle Thompson lined up for the 25-yard field goal. At the snap, Tartan freshman Ryan Cragun jumped off the line and dove in front of Thompson, blocking the ball to keep the game scoreless with 3:34 remaining in the first quarter.

After Christian milked 8:26 off the clock, the Tartans needed just 13 seconds to score. On their first offensive play, receiver Austin Locke took a quick pass from quarterback George Krantz for a 94-yard touchdown to take a 7-0 lead.

On the ensuing kickoff, the rain picked up again.

Junior quarterback David Jeremiah said the early struggles did not faze the Patriots.

“We had had starts like that before, where we lost momentum, several times in the playoffs,” he said. “We were bummed and we knew it was going to take a lot. We thought the game’s not over, we could still come back and get it. Then everything just didn’t go our way.”

Christian tied the game, 7-7, with 9:40 left in the second quarter when Jeremiah threw a five-yard touchdown pass to senior Trevor Howell, but would eventually fall behind 28-7 with 3:06 remaining in the quarter, though at least the rain had subsided.

The Patriots, however, refused to back down. With just 15 seconds left in the first half, Jeremiah unleashed a bomb to receiver Nick Sexton for a 69-yard touchdown. Petty opened up the second half scoring with a 21-yard touchdown run with 7:27 remaining in the third quarter.

Patriot head coach Matt Oliver said pulling within one score of the Tartans breathed life into Christian’s players.

“I thought we had a look at it coming out in the second half,” he said. “We got the two scores, got within seven and we had the interception down here. It felt like we had the momentum, but then they answered. It just seemed like we were chasing all night.”

St. Margaret’s kept the Patriots chasing and scored 20 unanswered points to end the game. Oliver said the Tartans’ were much faster in person than on tape.

“That was something I wasn’t expecting,” he said. “On film sometimes you don’t get that feel for the team’s speed and they were faster than we thought. They were aggressive. They seemed like they had a good scheme and they took away the stuff we wanted to do.”

Petty said the Patriots will look to make a deeper run in the playoffs next year.

“We’re just going to have to work harder than we did this year,” he said. “Just do the same things we did this year better next year.”

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