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Mater Dei's Best Is Not Necessary

Prep football: Monarchs' struggle in first quarter before cruising to 44-27 victory over St. Paul.


Mater Dei didn't have one of its sharper performances. But the top-ranked Monarchs had more than enough to get by Santa Fe Springs St. Paul, 44-27, before 7,000 Friday night at Santa Ana Stadium.

Mater Dei quarterback Matt Leinart threw for 233 yards and three touchdowns, all coming in the second quarter. The Mater Dei defense intercepted four passes and sacked St. Paul quarterback Isaac Hernandez twice.

The game served as a tuneup for next week's showdown with undefeated Los Angeles Loyola.

"They were very physical and we needed that going into next week," Mater Dei Coach Bruce Rollinson said. "That's going to be a tough one."

The Monarchs got a little more than they asked for in the first quarter as St. Paul jumped out to a 10-7 lead. St. Paul (3-3) built the lead with a short-passing game that seemed to confuse the Mater Dei secondary. Hernandez completed his first six passes and the Mater Dei defensive backfield turned some short gains into long plays by missing several tackles.

"The first quarter really concerned me," Rollinson said. "That's one I've got to go back and evaluate. Maybe we were too concerned with the run. I don't know."

Mater Dei's only points of the first quarter came when Brown Faave returned a short kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown. Mater Dei took the lead for good, 14-10, with Leinart's first touchdown pass, a seven-yard out to Brian Panique.

St. Paul's passing game bogged down in the second quarter. Mater Dei's defensive line began to get pressure on Hernandez, who had two second-quarter interceptions. Linebacker Billy Ewing had the first and it led to Leinart's 18-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Diulio that made it 20-10.

Diulio scored again on a 56-yard sideline pass after he juked a St. Paul defensive back and jogged into end zone untouched. Bryan New made it 30-10 at halftime with 21-yard field goal.

Leinart had two passes intercepted in the third quarter, but Rollinson defended his quarterback on both of them.

"On the first one, we didn't pick up a blitz," he said. "The next one, I tried to get too cute and I walked him right into it."

Mater Dei put the game out of reach late in the third quarter when Camron Carmona intercepted a Hernandez pass and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown.

"I'm real pleased a lot of kids got to play," Rollinson said. "We moved the ball around and we got our running game going in the second half. We're 5-1 and I'm not going to complain."

St. Paul Coach Marijon Ancich didn't complain about his team's effort, but he wasn't happy with the execution.

"We played well in spurts," Ancich said. "But that's not good enough against Mater Dei. You have to be consistent all the way through."

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