MISSION VIEJO -- The night was special for Johnny Stanton in more ways than one.
The Santa Margarita junior quarterback rushed for 173 yards and two touchdowns in a 28-20 victory Friday night against St. John Bosco, helping the Eagles take over sole possession of second place in the Trinity League heading into next week’s showdown against first-place Servite.
Along the way at Saddleback College, Stanton established school records for single-game and season rushing yards by a quarterback. Stanton now has 845 rushing yards this season, bettering the previous mark of 801 set by Michael Angelo in 2003.
Stanton did most of his damage on quarterback draws, taking advantage of huge holes opened by his massive offensive line, led by USC-bound tackle Max Tuerk. His 43-yard touchdown run on a draw late in the third quarter gave the Eagles a 21-13 lead.
“We weren’t expecting it to work that well,” Stanton said. “But, when a play works that well, you’ve just got to keep going to it.”
Santa Margarita coach Harry Welch says he thinks the play deserves another name.
“When you have Johnny Stanton, it’s different,” he said. “It’s not a quarterback draw. It’s Johnny Stanton up the middle.”
Stanton also scored on the first drive of the game, keeping the ball on a bootleg and running 11 yards for a touchdown.
After the Braves lost a fumble inside the Santa Margarita 10-yard line, Stanton marched the Eagles down the field but made his only miscue of the night, throwing a slant pass behind his receiver. St. John Bosco defensive back Bryce Treggs intercepted the pass and the California commit returned it 94 yards for a touchdown. The extra-point attempt was blocked, however.
Santa Margarita expanded its lead later in the second quarter when Alex Suchesk scored on a 31-yard run and the score remained 14-6 at halftime.
St. John Bosco running back DaVonte Young injured his left ankle while the Braves were driving late in the third quarter and did not return to the game. Royce Moore took his place and scored on four-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit back to one point.
After Stanton’s second touchdown run stretched Santa Margarita’s lead back to eight, Moore followed with a 67-yard touchdown run and the Braves were back within a point.
The Eagles answered with a 28-yard touchdown run by running back Ryan Wolpin with 6:31 left, and Connor O’Brien then sealed the victory with an interception with about two minutes remaining.
Afterward, Stanton made sure to give credit where credit was due.
"The line really stepped it up," Stanton said. "They did awesome."