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Mater Dei survives wild one with Orange Lutheran
SANTA ANA - Mater Dei took a wild ride Friday but when the momentum swings finally ended, the Monarchs were a playoff team once again.
The No. 3 Monarchs sealed a return to the postseason with a 32–21 victory against No.ï€® 7 Orange Lutheran in a Trinity League game at Santa Ana Stadium.
Mater Dei's defense provided the stability in the second half, forcing two turnovers that helped the Monarchs (7-2, 3-1) rally from a 21-20 halftime deficit.
Cornerback Jonathan Lockett sparked Mater Dei in the second half by out-jumping fellow junior, Orange Lutheran wide out Ahkeli Rembert, for an interception with 4:24 left in the third quarter.
Lockett's interception at his 40 and his 31-yard return came moments after the Monarchs had a 35-yard field goal attempt bounce off an upright and crossbar.
Quarterback Chase Forrest capitalized on the interception for the Monarchs with a 34-yard touchdown pass to Nik Little for the go-ahead strike and a 26-21 lead with 2:40 left in the third.
Mater Dei's Ben Humphreys then recovered a fumble on the Lancers' next play, which was from the Monarchs' 45 after a kickoff return and penalty.
Mater Dei running back London Iakopo finished the ensuing drive with a 12-yard TD run with 10:13 left in the fourth for the final margin.
"The defense shut them out in the second half, and that's the most important thing," said Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson, whose program missed the playoffs last season for the first time since 1986. "The bottom line is ... we're heading to (Angel) Stadium. We got one more blood bath."
That would be a date with Servite next week to conclude the Trinity League season. The Monarchs hope to have senior wide out/defensive end Thomas Duarte (deep quadriceps bruise) back. They also hope to reduce their penalties after racking up 14 for 115 yards against the Lancers (6-3, 1-3).
Orange Lutheran had seven penalties for 70 yards.
Mater Dei started fast, scoring three touchdowns in less than 1ï€¶1/2 quarters to take a 20-0 lead.
Humphreys first capped a 65-yard scoring drive with a 16-yard touchdown reception from QB Ryan McMahon with 2:18 left in the first.
Lockett then added a 74-yard punt return for a touchdown and 13-0 lead with two seconds left in the opening quarter.
The Monarchs' special teams stayed hot as Iakopo recovered a fumble at the Lancers 39 on the ensuing kickoff. Treavon Coley turned the turnover into a 27-yard touchdown reception from Forrest less than two minutes into the second.
Mater Dei scored 19 points off Orange Lutheran turnovers.
In a seemingly deflating play for the Lancers, Coley weaved his way to the end zone after taking a dump-off pass from the heavily-pressured Forrest.
But Orange Lutheran responded with three touchdowns in the final eight minutes of the first half.
Rembert answered Coley's TD reception with a 25-yard scoring grab to punctuate an 80-yard drive.
Orange Lutheran then used two tricks plays to surge into the lead. The Lancers had a 51-yard fumble return negated by a penalty but kept possession, and used a fake punt to extend the drive. Tylen Drake scored on a 6-yard run with 3:54 left in the half as Orange Lutheran moved closer.
Late in the half, Rembert broke a 61-yard run on a reverse to the Mater Dei 1, setting up a 1-yard TD run by Tavi Jimmerson with 1:43 left in half. Reese Flynn's PAT gave the Lancers a 21-20 lead.
"They pulled out everything, but I would do the same thing if I was them," Rollinson said of the Lancers, who were playing for their playoff lives. "That's a good football team. They battled, and that's what the Trinity League is all about.
"You're not going to get anything easy in this league."
Mater Dei's ground attack also provided stability in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter. The Monarchs collected 168 of their 243 rushing yards in the second half. Coley finished with 116 yards rushing.
"I really think our offensive line came alive (in the second half)," Rollinson said. "My hat is off Coley. Treavon just really had some great runs."
Mater Dei play Forrest exclusively at quarterback in the second half. Rollinson said the thought was that Forrest's ability to run would be effective against the Lancers. Forrest finished with 64 yards on the ground.
"We have to get both quarterbacks to be a little more consistent," Rollinson said.