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JOSH BARBER, CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
Crean Lutheran's Garrett Cox scores a touchdown against Calvary Chapel of Murrieta during the second quarter of Friday's CIF-SS East Valley Division second-round playoff game at Irvine High. Cox scored two touchdowns and ran for 185 yards.

Crean Lutheran takes another huge step, reaches semifinals

STAFF WRITER

IRVINE – Crean Lutheran used a strong second-half performance to defeat previously undefeated Calvary Murrieta, 28-10, in the second round of the CIF-SS East Valley Division playoffs Friday night at Irvine.

The Saints (9-3) move on to the semifinals to face Saddleback Valley Christian next Friday night. Saddleback Valley Christian will be the home team.

Calvary Murrieta (11-1) held a 10-7 lead at halftime, but Crean Lutheran (9-3) scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to advance.

Garrett Cox scored the go-ahead TD on a 2-yard run early in the final stanza, putting Crean Lutheran up, 14-10. It capped a big night for Cox, who had two touchdowns and rushed for 185 yards on 35 carries.

“A new school like Crean coming out with a win against a team that was 11-0 is an amazing feeling,” Cox said. “The O-line brought it to them tonight.”

Crean Lutheran, which notched its first playoff victory in school history last week, now tries to keep its season rolling.

“Everybody left is just an extremely good team,” said Crean Lutheran coach Brett Mertens. “We are very happy to be where we’re at. As a program, this is huge and I’m proud of these guys and I’m happy for them.”

Calvary Murrieta was led by Micah Roth, who rushed for 131 yards and QB Adam Schwab, who passed for 109 yards. Roth put the Warriors ahead, 7-0, on a 3-yard touchdown run on their opening drive. He helped them get into scoring position with a 40-yard run.

Crean Lutheran tied the game, 7-7, on a 15-yard TD run by Cox with 1:16 left in the second quarter. Brayden Campos countered with a 24-yard field goal with eight seconds left in the first half to put the Warriors up, 10-7. Calvary Murrieta appeared headed for another score in the third quarter when it moved the ball to the Crean Lutheran 18. But the Warriors fumbled and Cox recovered.

It was one of two fumbles by Calvary Murrieta.

“They just beat us when it counted,” said Calvary Murrieta Coach Brad Schwab. “We made some mistakes, but they didn’t and they capitalized and did a great job. They were a really classy team.

“We made penalties when we shouldn’t have and just mental mistakes that we typically don’t make both ways.”

Crean Lutheran extended its lead to 21-10 when quarterback Gavin Folsom hit Daniel Albright on a 35-yard pass with 8:38 left. The Saints made it 28-10 when Daniel Ruiz recovered a lateral pass and returned it 25 yards.

Contact the writer: tburt@ocregister.com


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