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Mater Dei Sends Message, 35-10

Division I: Unseeded Monarchs' impressive victory over Long Beach Jordan could be a warning to seeded teams. They face No. 3 Eisenhower next.


The most dangerous floater in the Southern Section football playoffs opened defense of its Division I co-championship Friday night and gave the rest of the field serious cause for pause.

Mater Dei, unseeded in the 16-team tournament because of a Week 9 loss to Santa Margarita that cost it the Serra League title, carved up Moore League runner-up Long Beach Jordan, 35-10, before about 4,000 at Santa Ana Stadium.

The first-round victory advanced the Monarchs (9-2) to second-round matchup against third-seeded Rialto Eisenhower, which defeated Los Alamitos, 35-21. The site will be determined by coin flip.

The Monarch offense gave Eisenhower's coaches plenty to think about with a multidimensional, 467-yard performance Friday against an opponent that had lost only to top-seeded Long Beach Poly and fourth-seeded Esperanza.

Quarterback Matt Leinart completed 11 of 19 passes for 273 yards with four touchdowns. Jeff Diulio caught three of the touchdown passes (15, 11 and 81 yards) as part of a five-reception, 135-yard night. And the Mater Dei running game, uneven much of the season, produced 194 yards, including 121 in 18 carries by Camron Carmona, who scored a touchdown.

"It was great that we established the run," Leinart said. "We need both components. If you're one-dimensional in the playoffs, you're gonna get beat."

"I liked that we were a very physical team tonight," Mater Dei Coach Bruce Rollinson said. "The guys up front really got off the football."

Jordan's deceptive double-wing offense did dent the Monarchs for 340 yards, including 136 rushing by Tyrone McKinney. But after the Panthers (8-3) pulled within 14-10 on McKinney's one-yard touchdown 2 minutes 28 seconds before halftime, they couldn't score again, despite reaching the Mater Dei nine-, four- and 22-yard lines in the second half. Two interceptions and a fumble stopped them.

Meanwhile, Mater Dei pulled away on Leinart's scoring passes to Diulio (11 yards), Kenny Chicoine (24 yards) and Diulio again (81 yards).

So the Monarchs, ticketed for the No. 2 seeding before their surprising loss to Santa Margarita, now are in position to become a thorn in the side of the seeded teams, all four of which won Friday.

"I think we kind of screwed up the bracket," Rollinson said. "But we're still Mater Dei."

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