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Simpson, Servite make statement vs. JSerra
NORWALK – Don’t count out Servite in the Trinity League.
The ninth-ranked Friars proved that to themselves and the Pac-5 Division league Friday by rallying in the final seconds to stun No. 5 JSerra, 39-38, on the heroics of backup quarterback Aaron Simpson at Cerritos College.
The senior scrambled for a 22-yard touchdown run with six seconds left in the fourth quarter and tossed the winning 2-point conversion coming out of a timeout to tight end Ryan Melvin. Simpson dove into the end zone on his score.
Servite, picked to finish last in the Trinity, bounced a short kickoff that JSerra (5-1, 0-1) recovered at its 41 with no timeouts. On the final play, Servite’s Daniel Garcia tripped a scrambling quarterback Matthew Robinson for the sack to seal a league-opening victory for Servite (3-3, 1-0).
“We’re going to fight every week, 48 minutes,” said first-year Servite coach Scott Meyer, who won his Trinity League debut. “Our guys have a ton of heart. … We played a heck of a (nonleague) schedule (to prepare).”
POSTGAME TALK: How the Servite won (analysis)
Meyer said the Friars decided to go for the victory to ride the momentum of Simpson, who came on in the first half in relief of Tyler Lytle (hamstring). Simpson threw two touchdown passes to Michael Bandy and on the winning possession, drove the Friars from their 20 with 35 seconds left.
“It’s great celebrating with these guys,” Simpson said. “(We) loved (the decision to go for the win).”
Added Meyer, “We came here to win. We had a lot of momentum.”
JSerra took a 38-31 lead with 35 seconds left on a 16-yard touchdown pass on a screen from Riley O’Brien to Avery Williams, who finished with three touchdowns.
But Servite responded and took the lead for the first time on its final drive. The Lions also led, 31-21, after Conor O’Brien, Riley’s older brother, returned a fumble 1-yard for a touchdown with 3:49 left in the third quarter.
“Disappointing that we didn’t finish,” said JSerra coach Jim Hartigan, whose school had defeated Servite the past two seasons. “We basically let the game get away from us by not executing coverage. Hats off to them. They did a nice job of staying in the game, fighting us.”
Williams rushed for 138 yards in 29 carries and also had four catches for 91 yards.
Simpson passed for 215 yards while Bandy and Terrell Bynum paced the receivers. Outside linebacker Connor Airey led Servite’s defense.
Servite turned a fumble just before halftime into a 2-yard touchdown run by Jackson Taylor and a 21-21 tie with 25 seconds left in the second quarter. Taylor’s run came three plays after a fumble recovery by Airey at the JSerra 15.
The Friars’ defense also received an interception from Jarrett Wesner at his 2 late in the first quarter ,but they couldn’t turn the turnover into points.
JSerra took a 21-14 lead on a spectacular 56-yard catch and run by Williams with 1:57 left in the opening half. The senior took a short out pass from Riley O’Brien near the sideline, made two tacklers miss in the secondary before breaking tackles near the 10 and diving into the end zone.
One of Servite’s top plays in the first half came after Lytle injured his hamstring in open field on a breakaway 39-yard run. On the next play, Simpson used a play-action fake to toss a 25-yard touchdown to Bandy.
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