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Two trick plays help JSerra top Los Alamitos
LONG BEACH – JSerra gave its Trinity League competitors a few more wrinkles to consider in the coming weeks.
The sixth-ranked Lions scored touchdowns on two trick plays, including one on fourth down late in the game, and showed emerging speedsters en route to a wild, 45-35 nonleague victory against No. 11 Los Alamitos on Thursday at Veterans Stadium.
Wide receiver/running back Riley O’Brien tossed a 40-yard touchdown pass to quarterback Matt Robinson on a fourth-and-2 with 2:43 left in the fourth quarter to help lift the Lions (4-1) to a 45-28 lead.
O’Brien lined up at quarterback and Robinson split to receiver in a tight power-formation. O'Brien made a short pass over the linemen to a wide open Robinson. The play loomed critical as Los Alamitos (3-2) responded with a 47-yard touchdown pass down the sideline from Hayden Smith to Taylor Kusch only 41 seconds later on the ensuing possession.
JSerra recovered the onside kick before running out the clock.
In the first half, O’Brien took a handoff from Robinson and threw it back to the passer for a 30-yard TD strike.
“We felt like we needed some big plays tonight,” JSerra coach Jim Hartigan said. “Obviously, they had some big plays, too.
“On film, they’ve done some things with a reverse and a double-reverse pass, so we felt we had to have those just in case we’re matching trick play for trick play. ... I'm proud of our guys because it was a track meet, which I knew it was going to be. Two good football teams getting after it."
As for closing out the nonleague schedule at 4-1, Hartigan said, "It's just good momentum going (into the Trinity league). We do have some explosive offense at times and the defense, at times, we're pretty good, too. This is good because we're going to have to learn and grow from this."
The Lancers open the Trinity League against Orange Lutheran on Oct 7.
JSerra showcased two sophomore wide receivers. Thomas Huff caught TD passes of 73 and 29 yards in the fourth quarter while Tarik Luckett made a leaping 19-yard touchdown grab in the first half.
JSerra showed its quickness on Huff's first score. Robinson juked a pass rusher and tossed a pass in the flat to Huff, who made a defensive back miss as the Lions opened a 31-21 lead early in the fourth.
The Lions’ defense made timely stops. O’Brien, a senior defensive back who has committed to Penn, dropped Dylan Laurent for a 7-yard loss on a fourth-and-goal play from the 1 in the middle of the third quarter. Sophomore defensive lineman Victor Clanton recorded a key sack in the fourth quarter that helped the Lions halt a promising drive at the JSerra 21.
In addition to his two touchdown receptions, Robinson passed for 352 yards and four touchdowns.
The Lions' no-huddle attack passed for 422 yards and six touchdowns. Los Alamitos also operated from no-huddle attack. Smith threw for 244 yards and rushed for another 42.
In total yards, JSerra outgained Los Alamitos, 517-473.
But the wild game featured some strong defensive play. Sophomore defensive linemen Shawn Nielsen and Cole Aubrey and sophomore defensive back Tyler Shimomura also were critical for JSerra. Shimomura had an interception.
Los Alamitos linebacker Issaiah Johnson had two sacks while Drew Platt added an interception and tackle for loss.
JSerra used a late 30-yard field goal by Jake Haggard to lead at halftime, 24-21.
The opening half featured three ties and some wild scoring plays.
Laurent broke an 82-yard touchdown run on the second play of the second quarter as Los Alamitos tied the score, 14-14. On the play, the speedy senior picked up a backward lateral from a scrambling Smith and cut back across the field en route to the end zone.
JSerra regained the lead, 21-14, later in the second period on its first trick play. O’Brien took a fly handoff from Robinson and threw a short pass back to Robinson for a 30-yard touchdown with 8:20 left in the first half.
The play, which JSerra used for a long gain against Bishop Amat earlier in the season, arrived one play after the Lions’ defense pinned Los Alamitos deep in its territory and forced a short punt.
Laurent returned the ensuing kickoff for an apparent score but the play was negated by a holding penalty. But the Griffins drove 84 yards for a 2-yard touchdown run by sophomore Keanu Norman with 3:45 left. Los Alamitos converted twice on fourth down on the drive.
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