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Gardena Serra defeats Westlake Village Oaks Christian, 42-41

The Cavaliers pull off a feat no team had accomplished since 2002 -- beating Oaks Christian in a playoff game.

December 12, 2009|Eric Sondheimer

When Francisco Olloqui booted the conversion kick in pouring rain late Friday night to give Gardena Serra a 42-41 win over Westlake Village Oaks Christian in overtime, bedlam erupted.

Serra players charged onto the field, and its fans were not far behind. The Cavaliers had pulled off a feat no team had accomplished since 2002 -- beating Oaks Christian in a playoff game.

Conner Preston's one-yard touchdown plunge gave Olloqui the chance to end it in a classic game between two 13-0 teams for the Northwest Division championship. Oaks Christian had won six consecutive section titles, 28 consecutive playoff games and 34 consecutive games overall.

It ended a game to remember. The jersey for Westlake Village Oaks Christian running back Malcolm Jones was so dirty his No. 32 was hardly recognizable, and his performance almost brought victory to the Lions.

The UCLA-bound senior rushed for 295 yards in 39 carries and scored four touchdowns, the last coming in an overtime. But the Lions missed the conversion kick, giving Serra the chance to win. A pass-interference penalty on third down kept alive the Cavaliers' drive that started on the 25.

It was a fantastic game between two schools that combined probably have more future NCAA Division I players than any schools left in the playoffs.

And what a performance they delivered. Robert Woods, who has committed to USC, caught a 16-yard touchdown pass with 4:48 left to tie the score for Serra. He slipped three tacklers to get into the end zone. He also had a 17-yard touchdown rushing and came up with his eighth interception.

The third quarter told the wild story. It started with Max Napolitano making an interception for Oaks Christian on the first play. Then Devin Spann of Serra intercepted Nick Montana and returned it 68 yards for a touchdown and a 28-21 lead. It was Montana's third interception of the game.

Oaks Christian's defensive line started to become effective in the second half, with Cassius Marsh contributing three sacks. Dillon van der Wal also had a sack and made a one-handed touchdown catch in the third quarter to tie the score, 28-28.

For those who relish offensive excitement, the first half had plenty during a 21-21 deadlock. Oaks Christian's first play from scrimmage was a 73-yard touchdown pass from Montana to Jordan Payton.

Interceptions in the end zone by Woods and Bene Benwikere off Montana provided big boosts for Serra, which opened a 21-7 lead in the second quarter thanks to touchdown receptions of 41 and 67 yards by George Farmer and a 17-yard touchdown run by Woods.

But that's when Oaks Christian decided to start giving the ball to Jones, and what a performance he delivered. He had touchdown runs of eight and 10 yards while gaining 159 yards in 15 carries. Passing the ball too often is what hurt the Lions. The Serra coaches were probably writing thank-you notes every time the ball wasn't in the hands of Jones, who looked like an indestructible tank running through the Cavaliers.

Serra had enough speed and talent to hold off the Lions. Now the Cavaliers get another week to play, probably in the CIF state Division III bowl championship.

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