Running back/cornerback/ kick returner Matt Taylor agreed with Swearingen, saying he and his teammates let that get into their heads early.
"I think our heads just weren't into it at first because of that. We looked at them as being the No. 1 team and let it get to us," said Taylor. "But after that first quarter, that No. 1 ranking was just a number."
The number that stood out in the first quarter was 35, as in how many points Imperial gave up.
From the get-go the Eagles took to the air as quarterback Paul Kirwan lit up the Imperial secondary for 171 yards and five scores.
On Santa Fe's first play of the first quarter, Kirwan hit receiver John Fredericks for a 50-yard score. The two hooked up again late in the first on a 19-yard touchdown.
Kirwan also completed touchdown passes to Andrew Meyer for five yards, Chase McBride for 43 and Isaac Boyd for 33. Matt Love nailed all five extra points to complete the scoring for the Eagles in the frame.
With 2 minutes, 31 seconds to play in the half, Santa Fe running back Alex Peltier reached pay dirt from 20 yards, followed by a Love kick to give the Eagles a 42-0 lead at the break.
"You know, I just think Imperial ran into a buzzsaw tonight. But they never quit, so you have to give them credit for that," said Eagle coach Brian Sipe, former NFL star. "I'm just glad we don't have to play them again."
The Santa Fe scoring machine seemed to get going again early in the third quarter as it tacked on its seventh score of the night on a Boyd 20-yard scamper 2:42 into the quarter.
A talk by Swearingen at the intermission seemed to sink into his players as they held the Eagles scoreless the rest of the night and forced two turnovers in the fourth quarter.
Imperial's offense didn't have much to show for the defensive effort, other than a 26-yard rushing performance from Taylor and a 19-yard output from Andre Cherry on 13 carries.
The highlight of the Tigers' night came on a 65-yard kickoff return by Taylor following Santa Fe's final score.
Next on the agenda for Imperial is the start of the Desert League as it hosts Calipatria at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Even though the Tigers are 0-5, Taylor thinks the season will start anew against Calipatria.
"The way I look at it is that we haven't lost a game and we haven't won a game. All this was just a warm-up for league," said Taylor. "This might sound cocky, but I think we'll win league."