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Whittier Christian beaten with second-half blitz
The Heralds give up 17 points in the first six minutes of the third quarter as they lose to Monrovia, 38-8, i the Md-Valley title game.
ARCADIA - Monrovia turned a close game into a blowout with a quick start to the second half against Whittier Christian on Saturday night.
Leading by two touchdowns, Monrovia scored 17 points in the first six minutes of the third quarter and defeated Whittier Christian, 38-8, in the CIF-SS Mid-Valley championship game at Arcadia High. It was the Wildcats' first CIF title in 10 tries.
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Whittier Christian (12-2) was playing in its fifth finals in school history, last winning one in 1990. Whittier Christian also lost to Monrovia in last year's semifinals, 35-32.
The Heralds were in front 24-14 at one point in that loss, but they couldn't get any traction Saturday night against the Wildcats, who entered as the Rio Hondo League champion and No. 2 seed.
"They got that quick score at the start of the second half and that put us on our heels," Whittier Christian coach Sergio Gradilla said. "We were looking to get a stop then score. Then we fumbled the kickoff and it all snowballed from there."
Monrovia (12-2) scored two second-quarter touchdowns and led 14-0 at intermission. The Wildcats received the ball first after halftime and capitalized when quarterback Nick Bueno hit Jay Henderson on a 63-yard touchdown pass to make it 21-0.
Whittier Christian fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Monrovia recovered inside the Heralds' 20. The drive ended with a 32-yard field goal, but Monrovia wasn't done.
The Wildcats picked off a Stephen Anderson pass on the next drive and took over at midfield. Three plays later, Bueno found Henderson again, this time for 46 yards, and Monrovia led, 31-0, with 6:36 to go in the third quarter.
Whittier Christian scored its first points on its next drive when Grant Escobar ran in from 42 yards to bring the Heralds to 31-8.
"I love the way the kids kept fighting," Gradilla said. "It's the reason we were in this position. I'm proud of our season."
Whittier Christian came into the contest averaging more than 35 points a game, but turned the ball over five times against a defense that was allowing fewer than 11 points a game.
"They were big, physical and fast," Gradilla said of Monrovia's defense.
Monrovia broke a scoreless game when Henderson returned a punt 68 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead in the second quarter. Monrovia extended its margin to 14-0 when Bueno and Henderson hooked up on a 28-yard touchdown pass later in the quarter.
Whittier Christian had a chance to score after Monrovia's first touchdown but a fumble inside Monrovia's 20 ended the drive.
"We lost to the better team," Gradilla said. "They were a great team."