By Brian Park
All good things must come to an end, and so it is for the St. Margaret’s Tartans’ undefeated start to the season.
Plagued by costly turnovers and big plays, St. Margaret’s (4-1) fell on the road to the Laguna Beach Breakers, 31-17 on Friday night. Laguna Beach senior Robert Clemons III burned St. Margaret’s for 152 total yards and three touchdowns, including a 78-yard punt return for a score.
“I’ve played with (Clemons III) since I was six-years-old, and I know how he works. He’s a fighter and when you give him an opportunity, he’s going to capitalize,” St. Margaret’s senior Andrew Torok said. Torok finished with eight catches for 135 yards. “When you give a guy with that kind of talent any room to move, he’s going to take it and we just gave him too much room tonight.”
St. Margaret’s junior quarterback Josh Davis threw for 277 yards on 24-for-40 passing but was intercepted three times. His opposite, Laguna Beach senior Larry Stewart, only attempted five passes, but two of his four completions went for touchdowns. Stewart finished with 103 yards passing.
Both teams converted field goals on their first offensive possessions of the game, but on the first play of Laguna Beach’s second possession, Stewart completed a pass to Clemons III, who avoided the St. Margaret’s secondary on his way to a 56-yard touchdown.
St. Margaret’s was forced to punt from their own 49-yard line after three consecutive incomplete passes to open the second quarter. Clemons III received the punt from Laguna Beach’s 22-yard line and turned up field to return the ball all the way to put the Breakers up 17-3 following the extra point.
St. Margaret’s sophomore Oscar Gomez answered with a 9-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter to pull the Tartans within a score.
Out of halftime, the two teams traded touchdowns: first, on a 14-yard pass from Stewart to Clemons for Laguna Beach and then on a 1-yard run by St. Margaret’s senior Chase McClure.
Down by a touchdown in the fourth quarter, St. Margaret’s made a final push to tie the game, but a Laguna Beach defender intercepted Davis’ pass and returned it to the St. Margaret’s 11-yard line. Four plays later, Stewart connected with senior Drake Martinez on an 11-yard touchdown pass and the Breakers all but sealed their third victory of the season.
“That’s a very good Laguna Beach team … It was just the little details that cost us,” St. Margaret’s head coach Rod Baltau said. “One of the great qualities this team has is resiliency. I know we’ll come back next week stronger.”
St. Margaret’s will try and recover next week at home against Grace Brethren of Simi Valley.