The Santa Monica High School Vikings football team did not waver when Morningside High School began a comeback effort with two quick touchdowns early in the fourth quarter last week.
Instead, the Vikings responded with authority by scoring two touchdowns of their own to maintain control of the Ocean League game and won 35-25 at Santa Monica College Corsair Field Friday, October 21st.
“We came up and made big plays when we needed to,” said Viking sophomore quarterback Ryan Katz, who finished eight-of-13 for 185 yards passing. “The offense is going to answer when it’s time to. We got a score when we needed to score.”
Santa Monica (6-1, 2-0) seemed to be in complete control of its Homecoming game with a comfortable 21-3 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
But Morningside (0-7, 0-2) wasn’t about to give up and scored its first touchdown on a nine-yard pass by sophomore quarterback Travis Harvey to sophomore Roderick Earvin.
The Monarchs immediately added another score on defense when senior defensive back Dwayne Wilson recovered a fumble by Santa Monica senior Daniel Lock and returned it for a touchdown with 10:30 remaining in the game.
The Vikings weren’t impressed, and they halted what looked like a potential Morningside comeback with a one-yard touchdown run by Katz in the next drive.
Santa Monica sophomore E.J. Woods sacked Harvey on the first play of Morningside’s ensuing drive and picked up a fumble to set up the Vikings’ next score.
The Vikings stretched their lead to 35-17 in the middle of the fourth quarter after a two-yard touchdown run by junior running back Louis Adeyemi and held off the Monarchs.
“It was a sloppy game for us,” Santa Monica coach Mike Burnett said. “The great thing that we’ll take from tonight is that we faced some adversity. It was a battle of wills out there and we didn’t quit.”
Santa Monica has put itself in good position to challenge for the league title this season, and although Morningside remains winless, Burnett said he knew the Monarchs would be a test for his team.
“We watched them on tape and knew they were better than an 0-6 team,” Burnett said.
Morningside looked like it was in for trouble early on when Santa Monica junior Cameron Collins grabbed his first of two interceptions on only the third play of the game for the Monarchs.
Woods kept Santa Monica’s first drive alive with a fake-punt play and the Vikings scored their first touchdown of the game on a two-yard run by senior fullback Robert Garcia.
The Monarchs cut the Viking lead to 7-3 in the middle of the second quarter after a 40-yard field goal by junior kicker Hector Gomez.
Santa Monica responded in its next drive when Garcia, who also led the Viking defense with 13 tackles, scored his second touchdown on a one-yard run.
After heading into the second half with a 14-3 lead, Santa Monica opened the third quarter with a ten-yard touchdown pass by Katz to senior tight end Christoff Neuman.
When it appeared that Santa Monica was on its way to another touchdown, Morningside recovered a fumble by Woods at its four-yard line that ignited the Monarch comeback effort.
Although Morningside managed to earn back-to-back touchdowns, Santa Monica stepped up its game and regained control after the touchdowns by Katz and Adeyemi, who had 21 carries for 149 yards rushing.
“I had to tell them to get out and win this game,” Katz said.
The comfortable Santa Monica lead was too much for Morningside, which added one more late touchdown after a five-yard pass by Harvey, who finished 18-of-34 for 186 yards passing.
Junior running back Anthony Pines finished with 22 carries for 115 yards rushing for Morningside.
Katz said his team was happy to get by Morningside with a victory because there are tougher league games ahead, including undefeated Beverly Hills and Culver City.
“The kids dug deep,” Burnett said. “It shows that we can respond and fight through our mistakes.”
The Venice High School Gondoliers suffered their first Western League defeat in more than three years after a 19-14 loss to host Fairfax High School Friday, October 21st.
The Gondoliers (6-2, 1-1) have finished the last three seasons with an undefeated record in league play and three league championships.
The team held a narrow 14-13 lead over Fairfax (5-2, 1-1) with five minutes remaining in the game, but the Lions then scored a touchdown to take the victory.
Venice senior running back Ken Ashley, who finished with 138 yards rushing on ten carries, scored both touchdowns for Venice, including an 88-yard kickoff return.
The Westchester High School Comets scored 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter against host Hamilton High School, but fell short in the comeback effort and lost 26-23 in a Western League game Friday, October 21st.
The Comets (4-3, 1-1) fell behind 20-3 at halftime and Hamilton (4-3, 1-1) added a third-quarter touchdown to take a commanding 26-3 lead.
But Westchester put together an impressive comeback attempt with three touchdowns in the final quarter.
Junior Andrew Craig scored a late touchdown for the Comets on a 45-yard run, but it was not enough to overtake the Hamilton lead.
Westchester senior quarterback Duron Sylvester finished 19-of-29 for 159 yards passing.
After breaking a 16-game losing streak a week earlier, St. Bernard High School was defeated 41-27 by visiting Cathedral High School in a Del Rey League game Friday, October 21st.
St. Bernard (1-6, 1-1) picked up a 21-6 victory over Bosco Tech High to start league play, and the Vikings remain in the playoff hunt despite the loss to Cathedral (4-3, 1-1).
Viking sophomore quarterback Ryan Simpson led the offense after completing seven-of-ten passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns.
St. Monica High School held a 7-6 lead at halftime but host Mary Star of the Sea High School grabbed two touchdowns in the second half to defeat the Mariners 21-7 in a Camino Real League game Friday, October 21st.
The Mariners (1-6, 0-2) scored a touchdown in the second quarter to break a two-game shutout streak, but could not find offensive success against Mary Star (2-3-2, 1-0) in the second half.