Over the last ten years, Serra and Mira Costa have the two best records of any South Bay schools. Friday's game was expected to be equally competitive. Both teams were 1-1 coming in. Coach Scott Altenberg previewed the game thusly: "It will be a battle. It will be a close, physical game. They will make us throw because we have not been successful at that so far". Everything was as Scott foresaw except the "close" part.
Serra took the opening kickoff to their 25. A 13 yard pass play and 3 rushes resulted in a 1st down at midfield. Then on 3rd and 15, Greene threw a good pass to Marques Rogers who made a better catch at the Mira Costa 15 and sprinted into the end zone with the first score of the contest. At 9:03. Serra had the lead and the Mustangs had the shakes. If Serra could pass, Mira Costa was sunk.
After a Mira Costa 3 -and-out, Serra took over at their 33. On 3rd and 13, Jalen Greene again found Rogers open in the flat for a 13 yard pass and run for a 1st at the 45. Anterio Bateman then burst off tackle for what would be his only brilliant run of the game. He juked and jetted through the baffled Mustangs for a 55 yard TD. The PAT hit the upright.
At 6:12, it was Serra 13, Mira Costa 0.
Mira Costa passed for their first 1st down, then punted on 4th and 10. Serra took over at their 30. On 3rd and 22, Greene was forced to scramble and was hit late and out of bounds giving Serra a 1st by penalty. On 1st down, Bateman gained 5 tough yards on a sweep but came up limping on what was his last play of the night. But his replacement, Jalen Jones revived the Cavalier faithful by darting through the Mustangs for 28 yards on the next play. On the first play of the 2nd Quarter, Thomas Brown covered the final 4 of this 70 yard drive blasting through the sagging Mira Costa line for a 20-0 lead.
The teams traded punts. Serra took over at 7:50 on their 25. The Cavaliers piled up four 1st downs on a 6 minute, 75 yard scoring drive. Key plays: Vaughn scampered 12 yards on a swing pass, Terrance Harvey on a 32 yard post pattern reception, Vaughn on runs of 13 and then 12 yards for the TD. Serra 27, Mira Costa 0.
Mira Costa again came up short on 4th and 4. Starting on the Mira Costa 36, Serra gained one 1st down at the Mustang 20, then stalled and failed on field goal attempt when the snap went awry.
To begin the 3rd Quarter, Mira Costa got one 1st down before again punting to Serra.
From their own 30, the Cavs launched a 12 play, 70 yard, 5+ minute scoring drive. Ronnie Vaughn burst for 35 yards and Jalen Greene scrambled for 30 and passed for all but one yard of the rest. Thomas Brown again bulled through from the 1 for a 33-0 lead.
Mira Costa's most threatening drive stalled at the Serra 10 with 8:20 left in the 4th Quarter when Glen Ihenacho intercepted a lazy pass at the goal line.
As a tribute to an outstanding defensive effort by the Cavaliers, Mira Costa was able to gain only 5 1st downs in the game. Throughout, Mira Costa gained every yard their blockers could give them; Serra runners were consistently able to gain more yards than the blockers provided.
And ultimately, the Mustangs did force Serra to pass and came to regret the strategy.
Next Friday, the Cavaliers take on Banning at 7:00 PM at their field.