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Duarte makes sure Mater Dei beats JSerra
SANTA ANA - Both No. 4 Mater Dei and JSerra came into Friday night's Trinity League opener with impressive streaks on the line.
A balanced attack and strong contributions in all three phases of the game helped the Monarchs extend their dominance over the Lions and prepare them for their upcoming showdown with the county's top-ranked team.
Senior Thomas Duarte caught two touchdown passes and returned an interception for a touchdown, as Mater Dei defeated JSerra, 42-10, at Santa Ana Stadium.
"The coaches count on me to be a play-maker on both sides of the ball, and every play I'm just trying to make a big play for my team to get the win like we did tonight," Duarte said.
Mater Dei (5-1, 1-0), which entered the contest ranked No. 7 in the state by MaxPreps and No. 14 in the state by CalHiSports, is 7-0 all-time against JSerra and has scored 42 or more points in six of those games.
The Monarchs will take on No. 1 Santa Margarita next Friday night at Saddleback College
"Our defense is really playing well right now and we did a pretty good job of getting after them," Monarchs coach Bruce Rollinson said. "We did what we had to do, took care of business, and now have to get ready for Santa Margarita."
JSerra (5-1, 0-1) came into the game 5-0 for the fourth time in the last five years and was attempting to match the 2009 team as the only other team in school history to begin a season with six consecutive victories.
Mater Dei took the opening kickoff at its own 20 and drove to the Lions' 9-yard line, but a sack and a missed field goal ended the scoring opportunity.
After the Lions went three-and-out on their possession, the Monarchs' special teams put the game's first points on the scoreboard.
Junior London Iakopo burst threw the line and blocked JSerra's punt attempt. Junior Matthew Rockett scooped up the loose ball at the 1 and jogged into the end zone, giving Mater Dei a 7-0 lead.
Senior quarterback Ryan McMahon converted two fourth-down plays on the Monarchs next possession to help set up a 7-yard touchdown run by senior running back Treavon Coley, giving Mater Dei a 14-0 lead.
The Lions got a spark when junior Casey Eugenio returned the ensuing kickoff 49 yards, but On the final play of the first quarter, Duarte intercepted a pass and returned it 52 yards for a touchdown to make it 21-0.
Eugenio would set up an even better scoring opportunity for JSerra with under 8 minutes remaining in the second quarter, as he picked off a pass by Monarchs junior quarterback Chase Forrest and returned it 77 yards to the Mater Dei 1-yard line.
But he was stopped for a total of no yards on three straight plays by the Monarchs defensive line. On fourth down, blitzing senior JC Genova came from Robinson's blind side and sacked him to end the Lions' scoring opportunity.
JSerra cut the margin to 21-7 less than five minutes into the third quarter. On 3rd-11 from their own 19 yard-line, senior Dante Pettis out-leaped a Monarchs defender to catch a pass from Robinson and sprinted 81 yards into the end zone.
But Mater Dei answered four plays into their next drive, as McMahon connected with Duarte on a 50-yard touchdown pass down the middle to make it 28-7.
The Lions next drive lasted 16 plays and took nine minutes off the clock, but the Monarchs defense held them out of the end zone. A 33-yard field goal by senior placekicker Greg Bucilla made it 28-10.
Mater Dei put the game away on its next drive, as 58-yard run by Coley helped set up an 18-yard touchdown reception in the corner of the end zone by Duarte to increase the lead to 35-10.
A 34-yard touchdown run by senior Jacob Delgadillo completed the scoring.
"Everyone will be focus for this week," Duarte said. "Friday night, we will show them (Santa Margarita) what we got."