Everyone around Rancho Santa Margarita knew it was special at the time it happened. When Johnny Stanton dove over the top of the pile on a quarterback sneak—covering one of the toughest yards of his career—on fourth down, it lifted the Eagles to the State Division I Bowl Championship.
The 42-37 victory over San Jose Bellarmine Prep was a showcase for Stanton, a junior during the 2011 season.
With California State Bowl Championships being played this weekend at Home Depot Center, the high school sports website MaxPreps named Stanton's score the No. 1 greatest moment in the six-year year history of the event.
It capped an 80-yard drive after Santa Margarita's defense purposely allowed Bellarmine to score, giving it a 37-36 lead with 1:46 left to play.
Wrote MaxPreps' Kevin Askeland: "But Johnny Stanton had other ideas. He directed a nine-play, 80-yard drive in one minute and 30 seconds and scored on a 1-yard run with 16 seconds left to give Santa Margarita the 42-37 victory."
He sure did.
Interestingly, the No. 8 great moment belonged to Bellarmine's Justin Taliaferro, whose 1-yard run capped a 13-play drive that gave the Bells the 37-36 lead. No mention was made that the Eagles defense laid down so that they could get the ball back with enough time for Stanton to work his magic.
Orange County had one other moment on the list. Coming in at No. 2 was Servite kicker Nicholas Echeverry's 23-yard field goal as time expired to give the Friars a 33-30 victory over Rocklin in 2009.
Stanton led Santa Margarita to a 5-0 record and No. 1 national ranking by some organizations when he suffered a season-ending knee injury; the Eagles finished 9-3.