The challenge was clear for St. Anthony (2-2) on Friday night, with unbeaten Orange High coming to Clark Field for the Saints’ Senior NIght. Even without a few key starters, the Saints competed well against the Panthers’ vaunted offense in a 42-12 defeat.
Orange (5-0) was averaging over 49 points per game entering the game, and certainly had their share of big plays in the passing game, but the Saints battled for a full 48 minutes and held the Panthers to just eight points in the second half–their lowest second-half point total of the season.
“We gave up 42, but the irony is, we played great,” said St. Anthony head coach Mario Morales. “I think it’s probably the best effort we had in a very long time, because they’ve got great athletes over there and they throw the ball like crazy. They’ve got a lot of skilled guys with speed and you can tell there’s Division I kids over there, they’re just a different level, but our defense just kept hanging in there. Overall defensively, I’m so happy with them. That’s some of the best defense I’ve seen since I’ve been here.”
The Saints went into the contest without starting quarterback Joey Howorko and key lineman Eric Suluai, who were both out with injury. The Saints were unable to muster much offense but did break some plays in the running game. Sone Aupiu brought his trademark hard-nosed running to total 39 yards on nine tough carries to go along with a 10-yard reception.
Aupiu was also terrific at his linebacker position along with Anakin Aupiu, who were both active all night against a high-flying Orange attack.
Panthers quarterback Daylen Pedroza was 20/34 for 299 yards and 4 TDs, which all came in the first half. He also carried the ball 10 times for 27 yards and a score. The Panthers ran for 248 yards on 32 carries, led by 92 yards on 10 carries from freshman Kobe Boykin, who also added 59 yards on five catches.
Orange hit the scoreboard within the first minute, driving the length of the field in four plays to take a quick 6-0 lead. The Saints defense kept the Panthers off the scoreboard for the rest of the quarter, but Orange busted out for 28 points in the second to blow the game open. Their first two scores of the second quarter came off short fields created by St. Anthony turnovers, and shifted the momentum to the visitors. Pedroza doled out two touchdown passes to Issac Adetoye and one apiece to Raymond Casillas and Jonathan Smith in the opening half.
St. Anthony was able to answer back with less than a minute on the first half clock, as sophomore Drelonde Johnson returned a kickoff for a touchdown to get the Saints on the scoreboard and make it a 34-6 game at the break.
The Saints would hold Orange scoreless in the third quarter and scored on the second play of the final frame when junior Daniel Franklin went 55 yards for a score.
St. Anthony’s defense got a pair of fumble recoveries in the second half and totaled nine tackles for loss and a pair of sacks on the night.
Next up for the Saints, a road game against league rival La Salle next Friday while Orange visits Santa Ana for their league finale.