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Speedy Serra stops Edison's season
COSTA MESA – Edison's faithful screamed in the third quarter for a holding penalty against Serra of Gardena.
Chargers defensive end Garrett Garcia didn't tackle speedy Serra quarterback Jalen Greene on the play, and the Cavaliers later scored a key touchdown on the drive.
Edison also hollered at the officials afterward, but it was a faster and more precise Serra that decided the outcome of the CIF State Division 2 Southern California regional championship at Orange Coast College on Saturday night.
Serra forced three second-half turnovers that led to 10 points and shut down Edison's ground attack in the final two periods en route to a 27-10 victory in front of an estimated 5,500.
Serra will play Oakdale, a 27-24 winner against Clayton Valley of Concord, in the Division 2 state bowl final Saturday at The Home Depot Center.
Serra (13-2) showed class by running out the clock at the Edison 1 to close the game and Chargers coach Dave White gave the Cavaliers the respect they were due in the postgame awards ceremony. Serra didn't commit a turnover and was flagged for one penalty.
"(They're) the best team we've faced," White said of Serra.
"We just made too many mistakes. We played hard. You can't make mistakes against a team like that. They're too talented. They're too athletic."
Edison (13-2) also lost to Mater Dei, but Serra set a season-high for the most points scored against the Chargers.
Serra scored the final 27 points of the first SoCal regional, and Greene's 4-yard TD run to cap the first drive of the second half proved critical. The junior gave the Cavaliers a 13-10 lead after a 75-yard drive.
Greene sparked the drive with arguably the play of the game, scrambling away from Garcia and Derek Baljeu at his feet for a 34-yard gain to the Edison 27. There wasn't a vocal protest from the Edison faithful on that play but later on the drive.
Garcia did record a sack later in the third quarter.
With the lead, Serra stacked the line of scrimmage against the run, forcing Edison out of its ball-control offense. Serra turned a fumble in the third quarter into a 20-yard field goal early in the fourth for a 17-10 lead.
Serra linebacker Malachi Mageo then landed the knockout blow on the ensuing Edison possession, returning an interception 41 yards for a TD and a 24-10 lead with 11:38 left.
"Speed is tough," White said. "Their linebackers run, probably, as fast as our defensive backs."
Serra used a 49-yard punt return later in the fourth to set up another field goal by Ryan Dobson.
Edison led, 10-7, at halftime by dominating time of possession.
The Chargers almost lost a fumble on its first play from scrimmage but recovered the ball to deliver the type of scoring drive it desired. The Chargers used their ground attack to chew up the first 6:39 with a 13-play, 76-yard scoring drive.
Quarterback Alek Torgersen capped the drive with 1-yard touchdown run as the Chargers opened a 7-0 lead.
The senior racked up six carries for 25 yards on the drive, and also converted the first third-down attempt with 32-yard pass to Trevor Borkowski, whose catch along the sideline got the Chargers' large crowd excited.
After Edison's defense forced Serra to turn over the ball on downs, the Chargers held the ball for 7:41 in driving for another score. Hunter Kelley capped the drive with a 27-yard field goal to give Edison a 10-0 lead with 7:34 left in the second quarter.
Serra's defense emerged with a victory of sorts because Edison settled for the field goal after taking a first-and-goal at the Serra 5. The Chargers hurt themselves with an offside on second down but on third down, linebacker John Houston leaped to knock down a pass for an open tight end Markus Boyer in the end zone.
Serra then showed its quick-strike offense with a five-play, 59-yard scoring drive. Greene punctuated the march with a 7-yard TD pass to Gregory Webb as Serra sliced its deficit to 10-7 with 5:48 left in the second quarter.
But after Edison's next drive stalled, the Chargers' defense forced a late punt in the half after a tackle-for-loss by Baljeu on a third-and-2.
Edison ran out the next 1:54 to finish the first half with a dominant hold on time of possession with 18 minutes, 53 seconds.
Torgersen and Donald Rice combined for 83 yards rushing in the first half but had 42 in the second half.
"We did what we wanted to do in the first half," White said. "We controlled the clock. We couldn't ask for a better first half. The second half was totally opposite. Give credit to them. They caused us a lot of problems."
Greene rushed for a game-high 96 yards on 13 carries and also completed 9 of 12 passes for 70 yards.