SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — Mater Dei’s football team overcame a scary first half to beat JSerra 21-13 Friday in both teams’ Trinity League opener at JSerra High.
The Monarchs trailed for much of the first half and went into halftime with a 14-13 lead.
Mater Dei (6-0, 1-0) has a marquee game against St. John Bosco next week and may have overlooked JSerra early in the game.
“I wish I had the answer to that, but I think it’s just the youth of the team,” Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson said when asked about the team looking ahead to Bosco. “This is a wake-up call, but we are 1-0 in the Trinity League and we will have to build on that.”
Mater Dei quarterback Elijah Brown had a big game. The junior, who is undefeated as a starter, completed 14 of 21 passes for 260 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Both touchdowns were to Marcus Harris, who had 106 yards on three receptions.
JSerra (3-3, 0-1) got the home crowd on its feet early. Sophomore George Perez returned the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown to put the Lions in front 6-0.
Mater Dei did not score for the opening 16 minutes of the game. The Monarchs got on the scoreboard with a 38-yard touchdown pass from Brown to Marcus Harris to give them a 7-6 lead in the second quarter.
JSerra took advantage of some Mater Dei penalties and capped a 70-yard scoring drive with a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Zander Singh to give JSerra a 13-7 lead.
“That’s a well-coached football team and they battled. There’s no quit in that team,” Rollinson said of JSerra. “Don’t be surprised if they knock off a few Trinity guys if they aren’t careful.”
Mater Dei responded with a quick scoring drive before halftime that ended with a 3-yard touchdown run by Jordon Davison. That score gave the Monarchs a 14-13 lead at the half.
Davison ran for a game-high 94 yards on 15 carries.
Brown threw a 51-yard touchdown pass to Harris on the opening drive of the second half to extend Mater Dei’s lead to 21-13.
Mater Dei had the ball two other times in the red zone but failed to score. Kainoa Davis had a sack to force a turnover on downs in the first half and Aiden Aguayo recovered a fumble inside the Lions 10 in the fourth quarter.
Clarence Chaney had multiple sacks for JSerra.
The Mater Dei defense, led by Nasir Wyatt, Leviticus Su’a and Aydin Breland, held JSerra to less than 3 yards per carry. Wyatt had the lone sack for the Monarchs.
Next week, Mater Dei will host St. John Bosco on Friday, Oct. 7, at Santa Ana Stadium in the most anticipated game of the regular season.
“I’m glad it’s here finally,” Rollinson said. “Everybody has been talking about it. I got a pretty good ticket to that game.”