The running game was almost non-existent, the passing game was nothing extraordinary and the scoreboard was not kind.
When the clocked ticked off the final seconds at Saddleback College on Friday, Santa Margarita Catholic had lost for the first time this season—and there wasn't any question about it.
The Eagles, ranked No. 1 in Southern California but vulnerable with a quarterback getting his first start, was outclassed by a motivated Mater Dei team that pulled off a 24-7 Trinity League victory.
It's the first loss by Santa Margarita since a 43-42 overtime setback to Servite in the final league game of 2011. Since then, the Eagles had won 11 in a row, including the Southern Section Pac-5 and State Division I Bowl championships.
It's the second year in a row that Mater Dei has beaten Santa Margarita; the Monarchs won the Trinity League opener last season, 21-14. The seven points scored by Santa Margarita is the lowest total since the first round of the 2007 playoffs, a 34-7 loss to Long Beach Poly.
Santa Margarita (6-1, 1-1 in league) came into the game ranked No. 1 in the nation, according to ESPN, and was the No. 1 team in the Pac-5 rankings and in the Orange County top 10.
Mater Dei (6-1, 2-0) came in ranked No. 4 in Orange County, and No. 13 in the state.
Santa Margarita was without Nebraska-bound starting quarterback Johnny Stanton for a second week in a row. Stanton suffered a season-ending knee injury; on Thursday, he was named the national player of the month for September by the National High School Coaches Association.
A dual threat, Stanton's absence was felt more against Mater Dei than it was against a young Servite squad a week ago.
The offensive line that is the anchor of the Eagles' success surrendered four sacks. Ryan Wolpin, bothered by a sprained ankle, carried 11 times for 34 yards. Santa Margarita finished with only 40 yards on the ground.
Kyle Sweet, who looked comfortable in the second half of last week's 21-0 victory over Servite in the league opener, was never too comfortable against the Monarchs' defense.
Sweet completed 13 of 23 passes for 172 yards and a touchdown; he also had an interception that was returned 27 yards for a touchdown by Ben Humphreys.
The Eagles' one big play was Sweet's touchdown pass to Connor O'Brien, who pulled down a 30-yard score on a fourth-and-27 that made it 10-7 with 37 seconds left in the third quarter.
The bulk of the big plays belonged to Mater Dei. J.C. Genova rushed for a game-high 64 yards and a first quarter touchdown, and also had three sacks to lead a defense that was solid all night. Thomas Duarte caught four passes for 78 yards, including a 28-yarder that for a score that answered Santa Margarita's only touchdown to make it 17-7, and 12 seconds later Humphreys added his pick-six for a 24-7 advantage with 8:31 in the game.
Mater Dei was far more balanced among the two teams. The Monarchs rushed for 121 yards and passed for 133, and outgained SMCHS 254-212 despite running seven fewer plays on offense.
The only other time in the game that Santa Margarita threatened to score was in the second quarter. The Eagles had driven from their 35 to the Mater Dei 17; facing fourth-and-9, they were penalized five yards for a delay of game. On fourth-and-14 from the 22, the Eagles went for it rather than attempting to kick a field goal. Sweet's pass was complete to O'Brien, but he fumbled the ball at the 16.
Santa Margarita plays at Orange Coast College next week against Orange Lutheran, which scored a 28-14 victory over Servite. Mater Dei plays at St. John Bosco, which defeated JSerra in overtime, 44-41.