A memorable season for the Edison High football team came to an end Saturday at Orange Coast College.
The Chargers, who last week won the CIF Southern Section Southwest Division championship, made their first appearance in a CIF State Regional playoff game when they took on CIF Southern Section Western Division champion Serra of Gardena in the Division II South final. For one half, it looked as though the Chargers had the chops to move on to the next week's division final. Then the game, and their season, took a turn in a tumultuous second half.
Edison committed three second-half turnovers that turned the game around. Serra was able to overcome a three-point halftime deficit by taking advantage of the miscues, outscoring the Chargers by 20 in the final 24 minutes to claim a 27-10 victory.
The loss snapped a 10-game win streak for Edison, which closed out a 13-2 campaign that included a Sunset League title.
Serra won its ninth consecutive game to improve to 13-2 and advances to the Division II championship game Dec. 15 at The Home Depot Center in Carson.
Edison started strong and led, 10-7, at the half.
"We made too many mistakes in the second half, and you can't do that against a team like that (Serra)," Edison Coach Dave White said. "We started out great, but the second half was totally opposite.
"But I was proud of our guys. They battled hard against the best team we've faced this year. They out-played us today."
Serra never trailed after taking the second half kickoff in for the go-ahead score. On the ninth play of a 75-yard drive, junior quarterback Jalen Greene scored on a four-yard run up the middle. Ryan Dobson's conversion gave the Cavaliers a 14-10 lead.
In addition to Greene's scoring run, he broke free from the pocket to scramble for 34 yards down to the Edison 27. He gained 15 yards on another scramble to put the ball at the 10.
Midway through the third quarter, Edison faced second down at midfield where Serra lineman Sam Akoteu recovered a fumble at the Edison 40. The Cavaliers took advantage of the game's first mistake by moving down to the two, where the drive stalled. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Dobson came on to kick a 19-yard field goal. It put the Cavaliers on top, 17-10.
Disaster struck again for Edison less than a minute later. On its first play from scrimmage following Dobson's field goal, quarterback Aleksander Torgersen was intercepted at the Edison 38 by Serra's Malachi Mageo, and the senior linebacker ran it back for touchdown to push the lead to 24-10.
The Chargers never recovered.
They went three and out on their next possession, and a 48-yard punt return by Malik Roberson set up Serra at the Edison 15. Four plays later, Dobson hit a 25-yard field goal to extend the lead to 27-10 with 7:02 remaining.
"They are athletic and fast and have some big studs," White said of the Cavaliers. "They loaded the box in the second half on us, we got behind and then were forced to play catch up. We played really well in the first half, but mistakes and penalties really hurt us in the second half.
Edison couldn't have hoped for a better start to the game. The Chargers played ball-control, chewed up most of the first-half clock and had sustained drives to keep the Cavaliers' offense off the field.
The Chargers constructed drives of 13 and 15 plays on their first two possessions, a pair of successful series that led to a 10-0 lead. Serra, meanwhile, ran only seven offensive plays in the first 16:39 of the game.
Edison took the opening kickoff in for a touchdown, although they averted an early disaster by recovering a fumbled snap on the first play from scrimmage at their own 24. The Chargers then methodically marched downfield and converted three, third-down plays in the series, including one that covered 32 yards on a pass from Torgersen to senior receiver Trevor Borkowski that put the ball at the Serra 39. A one-yard touchdown run by senior running back Donald Rice and Hunter Kelley's kick gave the Chargers a 7-0 lead.
On its next series, Edison started a drive from its own 29 and reached the Serra five. A motion penalty against the Chargers on second down put the ball back at the 10. After a run for no gain by Rice, a pass to the end zone intended for junior tight end Markus Boyer was batted away at the last minute by Serra linebacker John Houston. Kelley converted a 27-yard field goal, putting Edison up, 10-0, with 7:39 to go in the first half.
Serra responded immediately. A 16-yard run by Greene was followed by a 32-yard jaunt by Roberson that took the ball to the Edison 11. On third down from the seven, Greene threw a touchdown pass to receiver Gregory Webb with 5:48 left before halftime.
The Edison defense, which had five shutouts this year, gave up the most points in a single game this year. The offense was held to its second lowest output of the season. The Chargers played the game without leading rusher Marquis Ross, who was out due to injury.
A win would have given the Chargers their 14th victory of the season, which would have tied the school's single-season record for victories. The 1980 CIF Southern Section Big Five championship team, which went 14-0, holds that honor.
Saturday's loss, although disappointing, couldn't diminish what the Chargers had accomplished this year, White said.
"We went 13-2, won a CIF championship, and won the Sunset League, again," he said. "I'm so proud of these kids and what they achieved. It was a great year, one of the best we've had in a long time."
Twitter: @MikeSciaccaCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun