NEWPORT COAST — Dressed in sweats, Taylor Petty was closer to going to bed than playing for Sage Hill School on Saturday night.
Sage Hill was without its best athlete. Bad timing when the Lighting played host to The Bishop's, the defending CIF State Division IV champion.
Petty, out with a leg issue, saw the Knights run away with a 57-7 victory. The Lighting missed their senior against the program from La Jolla.
Without Petty at quarterback, the offense went nowhere. Without Petty at safety, the defense failed to stop the big play.
Before halftime, the PA announcer asked fans to come up for names for the Sage Hill defense.
The defense remained nameless and you might understand why. Coming off a bye week, the Lightning (1-3) gave up the most points in a game this season.
During Sage Hill's three-game skid, the defense has allowed 143 points. A lack of offense hasn't helped the defense stay off the field.
The only score by Sage Hill came on a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Eric Cheng in the opening quarter. The senior tied the game at 7-7.
That was the last time the two private schools were even.
The Knights (4-0) exploded for four straight touchdowns to take a 36-7 lead at halftime. Two of those scores were from 60 and 90 yards out.
One was by running back Jake Seau, the son of Junior Seau, the former All-Pro linebacker for the San Diego Chargers. Jake showed Sage Hill he could bolt down the sideline.
The sophomore broke a 90-yard touchdown run. The Knights were on their way to making plans after their 73-mile trip home.
Coach JR Tolver knew Sage Hill was up against it against The Bishop's, which won the CIF San Diego Section Division V title last year. He scheduled the nonleague game for a reason.
"I told my guys … 'Look, the last two years we've gone 7-4, 8-3, respectively, and we get into the [CIF Southern Section East Valley Division] playoffs, we play good teams, it surprises and we lose [in the first round],'" Tolver said. "This year, I can easily go out and schedule us [nonleague games that will keep us undefeated]. There [are] plenty of teams out there that we can beat and that we can beat handily, but that's not what this program is about. To be the best, you got to beat the best, and you don't get any better than the state champs."
The Knights proved they are cream of the crop. They are dangerous on the ground and through the air.
Joey Moreno, a returning quarterback, threw for 284 yards and four touchdowns. The senior put up the numbers on just 14 attempts, 11 of which he completed.
The best of the touchdowns was a 60-yard hook up with Bulla Graft.
Graft, probably the smallest player on the field at 5-foot-5, did most of the work. He broke tackles on his way to racing into the end zone to break a 7-7 tie late in the first quarter.
"Not bad for a 14-year-old," said a fan of the Knights of Graft's run after the catch.
The freshman finished with 111 yards on three catches and 29 yards on three carries. Graft collected more yards than Sage Hill's offense, which totaled 94 yards.
Cheng led Sage Hill's running backs with 40 yards on 10 carries. Backup quarterback Ray Harrison passed for 36 yards, his top target was wide receiver Conner Ascher (six catches for 32 yards). The offense could have used Petty.
"It hurts," Tolver said of having Petty on the sideline, rather than in the game. "A small school program [like ours], you try to take a few guys and build around them. Petty was the main piece of that puzzle. Him not being able to play for the last two weeks is a big deal.
"For us, it's a bright spot, though. We know once he comes back we'll be better, and hopefully we get back on track."
The Bishop's 57, Sage Hill 7
SCORE BY QUARTERS
The Bishop's 14- 22 - 14 - 7 – 57
Sage Hill 7- 0 - 0 - 0 – 7
TB – Love 20 pass from Moreno (Harris kick), 8:59.
SH – Cheng 90 kick return (Melita kick), 8:46.
TB – Graft 60 pass from Moreno (Harris kick), 2:39.
TB – Seau 90 run (Harris kick), 7:18.
TB – Seau 6 run (Moreno run), 4:28.
TB – Chedrick 16 pass from Moreno (Harris kick), :56.
TB – Love 46 pass from Moreno (Harris kick), 6:15.
TB – Drew 21 run (Harris kick), 3:04.
TB – Wang 9 run (Harris kick), 1:42.
TB – Seau, 7-122, 2 TDs.
SH – Cheng, 10-40.
TB – Moreno, 10-14-0, 284, 4 TDs.
SH – Ray, 7-15-0, 36, 1 TD.
TB – Graft, 3-111, 1 TD.
SH – Ascher, 6-32.
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