Mater Dei's Malik McMorris picks up an Edison fumble in the fourth quarter and ran it back for a touchdown at Santa Ana Bowl Friday night. Mater Dei beat Edison, 21-7.

Mater Dei's defense too much for Edison


SANTA ANA – Sometimes the best offense is a good defense.

No. 2 Mater Dei and No. 9 Edison proved the old saying true again Friday as their defenses dominated the schools' annual nonleague clash.

The Monarchs' defense scored two touchdowns — one more than Edison's defense — and Mater Dei won, 21-7, at Santa Ana Stadium.

Defensive lineman Malik McMorris returned a fumble 68 yards for a touchdown with 3:38 left in the fourth quarter to help seal the victory for Mater Dei (5-0).

In the first half, Mater Dei safety Matthew Rockett returned an interception 65 yards for a touchdown and a 6-0 lead.

Edison safety Marcus Epps also returned an interception for a score, a 60-yarder in the third quarter as the Chargers (2-2) took a 7-6 lead.

But Mater Dei's defense forced two more turnovers after Epps' touchdown to rally the Monarchs in their final tune-up before their Trinity League opener against Servite on Oct. 11 at Angel Stadium.

But it was McMorris' recovery that shined brightest among the five turnovers forced by Mater Dei's defense.

With Mater Dei leading, 14-7, Edison drove to the Monarchs 23. But on third-and-1, Mater Dei linebacker Julio Hernandez stopped the Chargers' run shy of the first down. Before the play ended, Edison pitched the ball back toward quarterback Christian Heffelman but McMorris – an agile, 6-foot, 277-pound junior who also plays fullback — made the recovery and rumbled for the touchdown.

Edison led, 7-6, late in the third quarter, but Rockett's second interception with 56 seconds left in the period gave Mater Dei the ball at the Chargers 37.

Mater Dei then produced the only scoring drive of the game, a five-play trek that lasted 2:30 and ended with running back Justin Allen's 3-yard touchdown run with 10:26 left in the fourth. Mater Dei led, 12-7, and made it, 14-7, as quarterback Chase Forrest pitched to receiver Jonathan Lockett for the 2-point conversion.

Edison defensive back Jeremy Maxwell also had an interception, while Mater Dei's Johnny Johnson collected one, too.

McMorris added a sack with 2:30 left in the fourth to end Edison's second-to-last possession.

Neither team cracked the 100-yard plateau for rushing or passing, but both offenses were shorthanded. Mater Dei played without receiver Ben Humphreys, while Edison was without quarterback Matthew Gane (hip flexor). Edison also lost running back Marcus Swanigan (14 carries, 71 yards) to an apparent injury early in the second half.

Mater Dei led, 6-0, at halftime thanks to a 65-yard interception return for a touchdown by Rockett with 4:39 left in the second quarter.

The extra point failed, and the miscue loomed in the second half.

Rockett grabbed a third-and-10 attempt for his first interception and raced untouched for the score. Two plays earlier, Edison argued that a pass interference penalty should have been called on a deep pass.

The Mater Dei defense also came up big on Edison’s opening possession. The Monarchs stopped the Chargers on a fourth-and-1 from the Mater Dei 37.

Edison’s defense also played well in the first half. The Chargers limited Mater Dei to three first downs and 85 yards offense. Mater Dei got 32 on its first play from scrimmage, a deep pass from Forrest to wide receiver Jacob Welch. But Mater Dei’s deepest penetration in the first half was to the Edison 44.

Epps finished with a game-high seven receptions for 64 yards.

The Chargers wore their new white helmets for the first time. Edison plays San Clemente next week.

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