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Mater Dei Turns the Tables on Redlands

Division I: Monarchs' comeback from 1-3 start continues with 44-28 victory over second-seeded Terriers.


Santa Ana Mater Dei took another step in a remarkable turnaround Friday night with a 44-28 victory over second-seeded Redlands in a Southern Section Division I football quarterfinal before about 6,500 at Santa Ana Stadium.

The Monarchs, who started the season 1-3 and needed a victory during the last week of the regular season to guarantee a playoff berth, thumped a Terrier team that had given up only 72 points in 11 games before Friday.

"I never thought 44 points, no way," Mater Dei Coach Bruce Rollinson said.

Quarterback Colt Brennan completed 23 of 30 passes for a career-high 318 yards and two touchdowns as the Monarchs (8-4) relied on a long-dormant passing game and broke the game open with two third-quarter touchdowns.

"Mater Dei played a perfect game," Redlands Coach Jim Walker said. "I told Rollinson after the game we've got to keep going to catch up with them."

Mater Dei will play Huntington Beach Edison, a 47-14 winner over La Puente Bishop Amat on Friday, in a semifinal next week. The Chargers defeated the Monarchs, 20-13, in Week 4.

Redlands (11-1) played from behind from the start after the Monarchs' Ross Poole returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. Mater Dei bolted to a 28-7 lead before the Terriers closed to within 31-21 near the end of the first half. But that was as close as they got.

One reason for the lopsided outcome might have been the disparity in the teams' schedules. Redlands played only a handful of tough opponents during the regular season, while Mater Dei prepared for the playoffs by playing powers Concord De La Salle, Mission Viejo and Santa Margarita.

"I think our schedule helped us, playing those very good teams early on," said Rollinson, whose team limped to its worst start since 1989.

Brennan connected with Julian Petit on a 42-yard touchdown off a flea-flicker early in the third quarter to give Mater Dei a 38-21 lead, and Rafael Rice's one-yard touchdown run on the Monarchs' next drive made it 44-21.

"We've been saying from Day 1 that if Mater Dei can put together a great game on both sides of the ball, we're going to be tough to beat," Brennan said.

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