Lightning, delays, and domination in conference opener

Mati Armstrong Football
Defensive Lineman Mati Armstrong celebrating after a sack. Photo by Edgar Galvan

After just 2 ½ quarters, Santa Ana dominated in a 43 point victory over the Los Angeles Southwest  Cougars, 49-6 on Saturday, Oct. 15. 

Santa Ana fans began chattering about the players from Los Angeles Southwest before the game started. L.A. Southwest players not only were much smaller than Santa Ana, but they had a very measly sized team. The Dons and their fans exuded a confidence they hadn’t shown in weeks.

The Cougars defense started off perfectly with an interception off quarterback Dallen Engemann. The throw went through his receiver’s hands and to the lurking safety.

As L.A. began their drive after the interception, the sky flashed a quiet bolt of lightning only a few miles away. The personal trainers scattered to clear the field and the referees blew their whistles to stop the game.  

An hour and 20 minutes passed full of down-pouring rain and continuous lightning. The teams came back on the field for about half an hour before the next delay began, lasting half an hour. In total the delays lasted about two hours.

The Dons came out blazing after throwing the interception.  They immediately forced two punts then scored two touchdowns and eventually took a 14-6 lead into the second quarter.  

Midway through the second quarter, the second close lightning bolt flashed in the sky once again.

“The boys didn’t really mind the wait, we’ve been excited to show what we can do before conference play,” said defensive line coach James Guglielmana.

Defensive lineman Blaze Iglesias totaled 1 ½  sacks and five tackles, backing up his coaches’ statement that his boys were ready. Iglesias also had three tackles for loss totaling 18 yards.

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After each delay, the Dons came out efficient and aggressive. They drove down the field and scored a pair of touchdowns.

“We made sure to keep the energy good, keep them relaxed, and stay focused,” Guglielmana said.

Wide receiver Kyran Hayes led the offense in production, catching nine passes for 155 yards and three touchdowns. 

Receiver Kyran Hayes fighting for more yards. Photo by Dominic Crenshaw

Quarterback Caesar Ayala came into the game in the second quarter, delivering 273 yards and four touchdown passes. By halftime, the score was 42-6. 

Their running game also saw success, as running back Jamiel Henning had eight carries for 63 yards, totaling nearly eight yards per carry. 

“We’re excited… We have some big shoes to fill, we won our conference and went to a bowl game last year,” Guglielmana said. 

The 2021 team started off 2-3, then won five straight conference games, before advancing to the playoffs and losing to Pasadena City.

In similar fashion, the 2022 season started 1-4, then a dominating conference display saw the team go 4-1 in American Metro League Play. At 5-5, Santa Ana  did not qualify for a postseason appearance, marking the end of their season.

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