The Vikings of Santa Monica were in the Cavalier's face pregame: mean, loud, menacing. Then they kicked off. Marques Rodgers fielded the ball near the east sideline at the five, cut left, saw a gap, and shot through the Vikings like a neutrino. His 95-yard touchdown was called back because one of the tourists crowded the line judge on the sideline. Bush. Serra's first down at the 40. Five plays later Serra ran the ball in from the 9. Point after went awry. Serra 6 - SaMo 0 at 10:28 in the first. It would be a long first quarter.
Against the Vikings, at least, the Cavaliers were too fast, too agile, too tenacious. Of Serra's 400 rushing yards, something like two hundred were made after the runner appeared to be bottled up within a body's length of the line of scrimmage. The passing game was not consistent, but there were big-time passing plays, and two long touchdown passes. The defense was tough against the run, and exceptional against the pass with four interceptions, one returned 95 yards for a touchdown including a "hello" flip over an attempted tackle.
All in all, it was a night that was easy on the fingernails, and so one-sided the Serra fans had the luxury of complaining about bad calls against the Vikings.
Following the opening drive, Serra used its patented piņata kickoff to put the Vikes in business. They moved the ball twelve yards in three strong running plays. Downs 5 through 8, however, netted only five yards. Fourth and five at the Serra 47. The undaunted Vikings went for it. Result, pass five yards over the receiver's head, quarterback planted as he threw. Serra takes over on downs. 7:16 in the first.
Three plays, highlighted by thirty five yard up the east hash mark, Serra scores at 6:39. Point after good. Serra 13 - Troubled Vikings 0
Serra expanded its repertoire of unconventional kickoffs with a squib that bounced into the hands of the receiver. SaMo gets a second chance at its own 33. The Vikings again managed a business-like first down, but ended up fourth and five after five plays. The Vikes decided to risk a punt.
Good decision. Serra couldn't move the ball, and kicked the ball directly to the Vikings receiver who ran it back to the Serra 16. Net about four yards. A good run to the ten was nullified by a personal foul against the Vikings. The Vikes tried to get it back with a pass, which was complete, but to Serra at Serra's own five. 2:31 remaining in the first quarter.
Two running plays and Serra had the ball at the Viking 20. One play later, Jalen Greene, was left in the backfield long enough to do his algebra homework, threw to a wide open receiver in the endzone. PAT good. Serra 20 - Startled Vikings 0.
Back to the Pinata kick, the Vikings start at their own twenty five. Two runs went nowhere. With SaMo's quarterback running for his life, Serra made a diving shoe top interception. Serra's ball at the Viking 34 with 6 seconds left on the clock. Tom Hendricks bets that Serra will score again in the quarter, and wins. Pass to the east corner of the endzone, Serra 26 - Browbeaten Vikings 0. PAT good 27-0, and three quarters left to play.
Serra kickoff experiment #3, on-sides kick: ball poorly kicked, fielded by Serra at the Serra 48. Illegal touching, SaMo ball. Six plays aided by a Serra personal foul (the first penalty against a Serra player). SaMo takes the lead in the second quarter 6-0. PAT blocked. Game score Serra 27-SaMo 6, with 9:57 remaining in the half.
The Cavaliers had some clutch slippage over the next four minutes, but matched SaMo's second quarter touchdown on a good run with 6:23 remaining in the second quarter. PAT good. Serra 34-SaMo6. Serra scored again five minutes later in a drive notable for Jalen Greene's poise under pressure.
Serra closed the scoring with a short field goal with three seconds remaining in the half. Serra 44 - Deflated Vikings 6.
Altenberg let up on the Vikes in the second half while giving many of the bench players additional combat experience. There was less in the way of fireworks, but what there was came from the Cavaliers. On the sixth play of the half, Serra intercepted a Viking pass and ran over four or five Vikings into the endzone. The play was called back because someone saw a hold. Serra's ball at the Viking 33 with 8:57 remaining in the third. Three plays later it was Serra 51-Vikings 6.
Things slowed down then.
With 7:44 remaining in the fourth quarter, Serra was stopped fourth and goal at the Viking 2. The Vikes moved the ball a few yards, then connected on a beautiful fifty yard pass play to set up a first down at the Serra 35. Two plays later, and "hello" Serra intercepted at about the five and returned the ball all the way, including the afore-mentioned flip for the final score of the game.
Next week, Serra parents and fans will face the three-hour drive to Lompoc for the Division semifinal. Lompoc is riding a 30+ game winning streak and back-to-back CIF championships. Lompoc high school football is the biggest deal in town. It's a great atmosphere, and a great opportunity because a win would most likely mean a rematch with Chaminade.