It was only one play among many, but for the Riverside North football team, it was a reflection of the entire game and couldn't have been drawn up any better.
For Santa Ana Mater Dei, it wasn't a pretty picture.
Midway through the fourth quarter, North's Jesse Spence fumbled the ball at the end of a short punt return, only to see teammate Damon Morton scoop up the loose ball and fall forward five more yards.
The Huskies (3-0), No. 4 in The Times' rankings, were seemingly always going forward as they pushed ahead to a convincing 28-10 victory over Mater Dei in a nonleague game Friday at Riverside College.
For No. 13 Mater Dei (0-3), it was simply another step in a direction the Monarchs aren't used to heading.
Mater Dei defeated North, 16-13, last season but, playing one of the toughest nonleague schedules in the Southland, suffered its third loss in a row after previous defeats to Orange Lutheran and Mission Viejo.
"We don't have it together right now and [North is] a great football team," Mater Dei Coach Bruce Rollinson said.
North's Josh Barnett rushed for 121 yards and three touchdowns in 11 carries, and Morton had five receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown on a 45-yard pass play from his brother, Dion, on the first play of the game. Dion Morton finished eight-of-11 passing for 146 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions.
"I've been looking forward to this game all year," Damon Morton said. "They're always a great team and we knew if we could beat them, we could look forward to an exciting season."
Mater Dei, which won five Southern Section championships in the 1990s, had not started a season with an 0-3 record since 1968, though the Monarchs have had two three-game losing streaks since.
The Huskies scored on their first three possessions. Barnett scored on a six-yard run for a 21-7 lead midway through the second quarter.
Mater Dei kept itself within striking distance with a 22-yard field goal by Pageniun Parvin in the final seconds of the first half, but the Monarchs couldn't muster anything the rest of the way.
Canyon Country Canyon 48, Etiwanda 7 -- It's like old times in Canyon Country, where Coach Harry Welch's Cowboys (3-0) routed their third consecutive nonleague opponent in a continuing display of offensive firepower reminiscent of their Southern Section championship days of the 1980s.
Louis Montano rushed for 235 yards in 17 carries and scored three touchdowns and quarterback Nathan Longshore completed 12 of 18 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns for the No. 18 Cowboys.
Free safety Robert Jimenez intercepted three passes, returning one 73 yards for a touchdown. Receiver Sean Coen caught nine passes for 82 yards and one touchdown.
Etiwanda (2-1) was supposed to be the best of Canyon's five nonleague opponents, but the Eagles fell behind, 26-0, at halftime and offered little resistance.
Twisting and turning, Montano broke off runs of 59, 43 and 36 yards on the night to give the Cowboys the kind of run-pass balance that wins championships.
Sherman Oaks Notre Dame 35, Palmdale 21 -- Cary Harris rushed for 177 yards and two touchdowns for the host Knights, who capitalized on two early turnovers in their nonleague victory.
Harris scored on runs of 92 and 11 yards in the fourth quarter as No. 12 Notre Dame (2-1) rebounded from last week's 31-7 loss to No. 6 Westlake Village Westlake.
On the second play from scrimmage, Palmdale quarterback JaVonte Holmes fumbled the exchange from center and Anthony Santa Croce recovered for Notre Dame at the Palmdale 14. Three plays later, Brandon Clayton scored on a two-yard run.
Chauncey Fagan blocked a punt by Benjamin Royce on Palmdale's next possession and the ball rolled out of bounds at the Falcon 11. Clayton plunged over right tackle three plays later for a 14-0 lead with 8:10 left in the first quarter.
Justin Shaw caught six passes for 78 yards for Palmdale (2-1), including an eight-yard touchdown reception from Rodney Trimm with 25 seconds left.
Garrett Green scored on a seven-yard quarterback keeper to give Notre Dame, the defending Southern Section Division III champions, a 21-0 lead with 6:31 to play before halftime.
Holmes rushed for 81 yards and one touchdown and threw a six-yard scoring pass to T.J. McKay in the third quarter. The Falcons had outscored their first two opponents, 96-16.
Gardena 50, Los Angeles Franklin 12 -- Jason Lewis returned a punt return for a touchdown and Chris Green ran for three scores as Gardena (3-0) scored 35 unanswered points in the second half to go on to the easy nonleague victory at home.
Lewis broke open a tight game when he took a punt at the Panthers' 46-yard line, reversed field and went up the left sideline to give them a 23-12 lead. Green, who had 172 yards in 14 carries, turned the game into a rout when he scored on runs of 32 and 59 yards on consecutive possessions.
Gardena finished with 431 yards of offense, 364 of which came on the ground.
"Last week was such a tough game because of the heat and I thought we lost a little bit of our confidence," Gardena Coach Marshall Jones said of the Panthers' 20-13 victory over Van Nuys Grant. "I thought we got a little bit of our swagger back. I think we're capable of being much better on defense."
Franklin (1-2) kept the game close in the first half on two touchdown passes by quarterback Keith Hale.
-- Eric Stephens