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Santa Ana seizes league title by knocking off Orange with last-second field goal

SANTA ANA — Santa Ana High’s football team is back on top of the Orange Coast League.

A 19-yard field goal by Anthony Gomez was the ultimate difference in the game as the Saints outlasted Orange for a thrilling 36-34 victory Friday night at Santa Ana Stadium.

Trailing 34-33 with just over two minutes remaining in the game, Santa Ana (6-0, 3-0) converted on fourth-and-18 when Angel Vega connected with Pablo Perez to set up Gomez’s winning kick on the final drive.

Vega accounted for 400 yards of offense and four TDs. The senior quarterback completed 13 of 19 with 267 yards and three touchdowns while also having a game-high 133 yards on the ground and a rushing TD.

“I’m just so proud to be a part of Santa Ana,” Saints coach Charlie TeGantvoort said. “We go through so much adversity, 90% of our kids have jobs after practice and yet they still come and work hard every day with a smile on their face.

“A lot of teams are built on talent, skill, but we’re built on love, and you could see the love for each other. We could’ve quit about a hundred times that game, but because we loved each other, we kept coming and it was a great game.”

The Saints took a 30-14 lead in the third quarter after a first half that was tied at 14-14.

Their opening drive of the second half was sparked by Vega and Jason Costa, who took turns gaining large chunks of yards. The drive ended with Vega’s 1-yard touchdown run.

Isaiah Adetoye was tackled in the end zone for a safety on the ensuing possession for Orange’s (5-1, 1-1), and then Vega hit Gomez for a 47-yard TD pass on the Saints’ next play from scrimmage.

The Panthers rallied hard behind senior quarterback Daylen Pedroza, and Kobe Boykin and Xavier Hicks each scored third-quarter touchdowns to come within four points, 30-26, of the Saints.

Gomez’s first field goal gave Santa Ana a 33-26 lead with 7:42 left in the game. Orange fumbled on its next possession, but then Vega was intercepted in the end zone by Justin Harris on the next play.

The Panthers went on an 80-yard scoring drive that featured Boykin as the main catalyst. The freshman receiver capped the drive with a 4-yard touchdown catch from Pedroza, giving Orange a 34-33 advantage, their first lead of the game.

Orange coach Robert Pedroza was proud of his team’s resolve to come back and take the lead but gave credit to Santa Ana on their victory.

“We knew we were going to play tough and play until the final whistle, and we did tonight,” Pedroza said. “Our kids battled and they (Santa Ana) battled as well. It was a great high school football game. It went their way tonight and congratulations to them.”

TeGantvoort shared similar sentiments on the victory.

“Both teams played so hard,” he said. “Orange should be extremely proud of themselves. I was just happy to be a part of this game and watch it unfold.”

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