TOGETHER: Mater Dei players come together before facing Carson in overtime Wednesday night.

Barkley rallies top-ranked Mater Dei to 3-OT victory

Barkley rallies top-ranked Mater Dei to 3-OT victory
AUDIO: QB struggles at times but his sixth TD pass seals 46-43 triumph over Carson.

LONG BEACH - After his final pass finally put away Carson, Matt Barkley fell to his knees and rested his head on the turf at Veterans Stadium.

His teammates made a mad-dash to Derek Campbell in the end zone to celebrate Mater Dei's season-opening 46-43 triple-overtime victory.

“I was just thanking God,” the Mater Dei senior said. “I was praying that whole time after I threw that pick. That was ugly.”

The 2007 Gatorade national player of the year wasn't at his best Wednesday night before a national audience on ESPN2, but he and Orange County's top-ranked team survived a valiant effort from Carson, last season's L.A. City Section runner-up.

Barkley, who has committed to USC, got the Monarchs over the hump by tossing his sixth touchdown. On Mater Dei's first play in the third overtime, Barkley lofted a touchdown pass to Campbell near the corner of the end zone.

Carson had taken a 43-40 lead earlier in the third overtime on a 28-yard field goal by Juan Sanchez.

In a scoreless second overtime, Mater Dei blocked a 32-yard field goal attempt that came on the heels of Barkley's fourth interception.

“But I had every confidence that our defense would hold them,” Barkley said. “Our special teams played great tonight. … It was an ugly win but it's a win.”

Each team scored in the first overtime, but Mater Dei and Carson also failed to convert their extra points.

Barkley completed 15 of 31 passes for 301 yards. Senior Ario Winston, one of Mater Dei's new-look receiving group, had six receptions for 143 yards, including three touchdowns.

After the score was tied, 20-20, at halftime, Carson scored the first two touchdowns of the third quarter to open a 34-20 lead. The Colts took the second-half kickoff and drove from their 27 for a 3-yard touchdown run by running back Ezekial Graham.

Carson's Kevin Lane then intercepted Barkley at Mater Dei's 44 and it led to a 5-yard touchdown run by quarterback Daniel Torres and a 34-20 lead for the Colts.

Barkley answered with a 41-yard touchdown strike to Winston on a third-down play in the third. Barkley then tossed a 7-yard touchdown to Winston with 10:38 left in the fourth and Zac Chocek converted the extra point to tie the score, 34-34.

The action also was back-and-forth in the first half.

Mater Dei sophomore Victor Blackwell started the night by returning the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown.

The Monarchs also started their 2007 season by returning the opening kickoff for a score.

Blackwell was sharp on Mater Dei's first possession. He caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from Barkley to cap a 71-yard drive and give the Monarchs a 12-0 lead. Wide receiver Christian Maldonado kept the drive alive with a tackle-breaking 26-yard reception on a third-and-10.

The Monarchs missed their second consecutive extra point.

Blackwell almost kept the highlight plays coming in the first quarter but a pair of penalties wiped out two big gains. He had a nifty 23-yard punt return along the sideline brought back, and a leaping 50-yard reception.

Carson struck quickly midway through the second quarter to briefly take the lead.

Morrell Presley (USC) caught a 31-yard touchdown pass from scrambling quarterback Torres with 7:30 left in the quarter. 

Less than a minute later, Carson's Antonio Crews intercepted what appeared to be a deflected pass from Barkley and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown. Juan Sanchez converted the extra point as the Colts took a 14-12 lead.

The teams traded scores before the halftime.

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