Orange Lutheran's Lance Dravis, left, hangs onto Mater Dei's Brandon LaMarche jersey to bring him down after a big gain in Friday's game.

Freshman Daniels stars as Mater Dei wins thriller


COSTA MESA – Brandon LaMarche has the best view of the progress.

LaMarche, the Mater Dei running back, stands almost hip-to-hip in the backfield with Mater Dei freshman quarterback JT Daniels.

On Friday, LaMarche saw Daniels pass for 454 yards and four touchdowns as the Monarchs beat Orange Lutheran, 49-35, in a Trinity League opener at Orange Coast College.

Daniels also ran for the game-clinching touchdown with 1:38 left in the fourth quarter.

“He’s starting to show he can do anything,” said LaMarche, especially impressed by Daniels’ decision on his touchdown run to keep the ball and instinctively cut inside and dive for the end zone. “That one there was unheard of because that’s not what he’s used to doing. He’s learning on the flying and starting to show his intelligence as a football player.”

POSTGAME TALK: What Mater Dei did to beat Orange Lutheran

LaMarche caught one of the touchdown passes and rushed for 180 yards and two touchdowns. Osiris St. Brown caught two 80-yard touchdown passes, both of which featured either a spectacular catch and/or spectacular post-catch moves.

Orange Lutheran senior quarterback Lj Northington threw for 281 yards and two touchdowns, both long ones to Austin Liles, and ran for two touchdowns.

Mater Dei (5-0, 1-0), ranked No. 1 in Orange County, plays defending Trinity League champion St. John Bosco of Bellflower at Santa Ana Stadium next Friday in another league game. Bosco is No. 3 in the California top 20 that has Mater Dei at No. 4 (De La Salle of Concord and Centennial of Corona are 1-2).

Orange Lutheran (3-3, 0-1), No. 4 in the county top 10, plays Servite at Cerritos College in a league game next Friday. Lutheran is No. 20 in the state rankings. The Lancers’ three losses are to teams ranked in the state top four – De La Salle, Centennial and Mater Dei.

Orange Lutheran had a 21-14 lead at halftime. Mater Dei scored three touchdowns in a row in the third quarter, including one of the 80-yard passes to St. Brown and runs of 28 and 32 yards by LaMarche, to take a 35-21 lead.

Lutheran tied it on an 86-yard touchdown pass from Northington to Liles late in the third quarter and a 13-yard touchdown run by Northington early in the fourth.

Mater Dei took a 42-35 lead on Daniels’ quick-hitter pass to LaMarche that turned into a 53-yard scoring play. Daniels’ touchdown run with 1:38 remaining put it away.

“It’s a heck of a win for us,” Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson said. “I knew this was a tough opener.”

Rollinson had to convince his players at halftime to not worry about trailing by seven going into the third quarter.

“I said, ‘Look, that’s 24 minutes of your life you’ll never get back so forget about it and move on to the next 24 minutes,” Rollinson said. “Our offensive line did a tremendous job, LaMarche was powerful and I can’t say enough about what the freshman quarterback did.”

Liles finished with 6 catches for 178 yards and two TDs. St. Brown had eight catches for 195 yards. Mater Dei’s Christopher Parks had five catches for 68 yards and teammate Andre Collins had a clutch 30-yard reception for a first down that set up Daniels’ TD run late in the game.

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