WESTLAKE VILLAGE – Mater Dei doesn't like being underdogs.
It especially doesn't like hearing about it.
Something the Monarchs haven't grown tired of hearing: Coach Bruce Rollinson barking, “Defense wins championships.”
“I love it, I love it.” Mater Dei linebacker Ben Humphreys said. “It's an everyday saying. It's our motto. It's what we go by. It's the way we play. They doubted us a little bit but at the end of the day, it's Mater Dei football.”
The Monarchs bullied Oaks Christian of Westlake Village on both sides of the line en route to a 28-17 victory Friday in a CIF-SS Pac-5 Division first round game at Oaks Christian High in the first meeting between the football powerhouses.
Mater Dei (9-2), which finished the regular season ranked No. 2 in the county and No. 9 in the division, will play host next week to county No. 1 Mission Viejo, the division's No. 2 seed.
Humphreys recorded two of the Monarchs' five sacks and recovered a fumble late in the fourth quarter with his team clinging to a 21-17 lead. Fullback London Iakopo busted through for a 16-yard touchdown on the following play to clinch the victory.
Mater Dei committed to running the ball early and never let up, despite losing 12 yards on its opening drive. The Trinity League runner-up ran of 53 of 66 plays from scrimmage and gained 344 yards. It converted 19 of its 20 first downs via the run. Chase Forrest ran 11 times for 113 yards, serving as a running back more than a quarterback.
“It started up front,” Rollinson said. “Keep them off balance with formations, motions, heavy stuff, and try to eat the clock and move the chains. All of our backs stepped up.”
Iakopo ignited the Mater Dei offense early with a 30-yard burst down the right sideline, which he followed up with a 9-yard touchdown run on the following play.
Forrest's 48-yard gain through the middle of the Lions' defense set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Malik McMorris, giving the Monarchs a 14-0 lead. Mater Dei took a 21-7 lead just before halftime when Forrest flipped a 5-yard shovel pass to Jonathan Lockett for a touchdown.
Oaks Christian quarterback Brandon Dawkins, an Arizona commit, completed 21 of 37 passes for 241 yards but failed to throw a touchdown for the first time all season. He ran for 84 yards and two touchdowns.
Oaks Christian (8-3) has won seven CIF section titles since 2003. This is only its second year in the Pac-5, however.
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