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Stunning stumble by Servite to start season
LA PUENTE -- Servite coach Troy Thomas has led his teams to many an upset during a prolific seven-year tenure that has included a share of the Trinity League title in each season.
The surprise Friday wasn't being on the other end of one, but rather how it wasn't much in doubt.
In a result that will be felt throughout the CIF-SS Pac-5 Division, Bishop Amat of La Puente shocked Servite, 40-23, at Bishop Amat High in Friday's season opener.
"We were never really in it," Thomas said. "They beat us in every phase of the game tonight."
The loss snapped the Friars' 25-game winning streak against California teams in the regular season, their last loss coming to Edison in 2009. Amat leaned on superior speed and athleticism, jumping out to a 28-10 halftime lead while breaking free for three touchdowns of at least 23 yards.
"I know Amat from the '90s," Thomas said. "This is a typical Amat team. Last year I was very surprised by what happened. I expected a great game last year and I expected one this year."
The Friars dominated the Lancers, 49-14, at Cerritos College a year ago. The two teams are longtime rivals that used to meet annually, first in the Angelus League from 1968-91, and then for five years in the Serra League from 2001-05.
"We feel like we're as competitive as anybody and we play and practice like that," Bishop Amat coach Steve Hagerty said. "There's a tradition here and they live up to it. You never know what to expect (in the opener), but I felt there was an air of confidence with our kids."
Servite junior Neil Pauu made his debut as the starting quarterback and completed 9 of 19 passes for 105 yards. The BYU commit also ran for 139 yards and a touchdown, but the Servite ground game was stifled otherwise.
Lancers quarterback Koa Haynes completed 15 of 23 passes for 147 yards and three touchdowns. Tailback Dionza Blue gained 108 yards on 15 carries.
Servite struggled from the beginning, fumbling on its second play from scrimmage. Amat capitalized with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Haynes to Darren Andrews.
Servite cut into a double-digit deficit when Pauu sliced through the Lancers defense for a 62-yard touchdown to make it 14-10 early in the second quarter. Amat quickly responded as Haynes hooked up with a wide-open Andrews in the second quarter for a 33-yard score.
Moments after Servite botched a punt, Amat took a 28-10 lead on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Haynes to receiver Joseph Cook.
A 40-yard touchdown from Pauu to Tony Brown in the third quarter cut the lead 28-17, but that was as close as Servite got.