NATIONAL CITY — At least Morse High School quarterback Jimmy Rose had confidence in himself. Hardly anyone else did.
When junior quarterback Mike Liera was injured on the first play of the second quarter, Rose was called upon. The 5-foot, 10-inch junior had played five minutes all season.
Morse, leading 3-0 when Liera was injured, took a 16-0 lead behind Rose and held on, 16-8, in the CIF San Diego Section 3-A quarterfinals before about 6,000 at Sweetwater High.
Rose had help from Larry Maxey, who rushed for 78 yards and scored a touchdown, and the Morse defense, which made three interceptions and held Sweetwater to 161 yards in total offense.
But Rose was the one who held it all together, even if no one thought he could.
Coach John Shacklett was dismayed when Liera was hurt.
Receiver Melvin Maxwell's reaction: "I was very worried."
But Rose said with a straight face: "I was confident. I had a job to do."
He was dead serious, totally calm.
Rose said he gained some of that confidence last week when he played the last five minutes of Morse's 45-7 win over Granite Hills. He said he completed 3 of 4 passes for 40 yards.
Rose's first play was easy. He just handed the ball to Maxey, who scored on a three-yard run to make the score 10-0 with 11:49 to play in the first half.
But in the third quarter, Rose's passing stood out.
After two holding penalties made it first and 30 on the Morse 36-yard line, Rose threw a 41-yard pass to Joseph Welsh on the sideline. The next play, Rose threw a 20-yarder to Maxwell.
Fullback Derrick Green scored on a one-yard run two plays later to give Morse a 16-0 lead.
Rose completed his first five passes and finished 5 for 6 for 116 yards.
Running back Pierre Jones scored for Sweetwater on a three-yard run and ran in for the two-point conversion with 10:40 to play. Jones finished with 90 yards rushing on 9 carries, including a 53-yard run the first time he touched the ball.
Sweetwater stopped Morse in three plays and took over on its 38 with 8:38 to play. Quarterback Art Saenz drove Sweetwater to Morse's 15, but threw an incomplete pass on fourth and six with 5:46 to play.
Morse (9-3) will play the winner of tonight's Mount Miguel-Fallbrook game. Sweetwater (8-3) lost for the second straight year in the quarterfinals.
Mt. Carmel 20
Earlier this week, Mt. Carmel's players were reading in the newspapers that their offense was simple.
So, they set out to do something about that in their game against Helix Friday night at Mt. Carmel. They junked simplicity.
It didn't work, however, in the first half and Mt. Carmel fell behind, 13-7.
In the second half, they went back to being simple. Running tailback Mark King from tackle-to-tackle, Mt. Carmel drove for the go-ahead touchdown on its first possession of the second half and went on to defeat Helix, 20-13.
Mt. Carmel (9-1) will meet the winner of tonight's Orange Glen-Point Loma game in next week's semifinals.
Helix finished at 8-3-1.
"We tried a lot of stuff we don't normally do in the first half because we didn't like reading that we were simple," Mt. Carmel quarterback Chris Beeman said. "But, I guess we are simple. Because we went back to doing what we do best in the second half and it worked."
King, who gained only 29 yards in the first half, rushed 4 times for 50 yards to start the second half, setting up a five-yard touchdown run by John Tejcek. Marco Aleman's extra point gave the Sundevils a 14-13 lead.
A minus three-yard punt by Helix set up Mt. Carmel at the Helix 25, and Beeman needed only two plays to get another score. He threw 24-yards to Alan Cross for a touchdown and it was 20-13.
Beeman hit Cross on a 28-yard score to give Mt. Carmel a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. Helix came back to take a 10-7 lead on a 27-yard field goal by Vesa Peltola and a two-yard run by quarterback Tim Zeddies.
On the final play of the first half, Ed Evilsizor kicked a 50-yard field goal to give the Highlanders a 13-7 lead.