SANTA ANA — OK, so it wasn't the prettiest of things Friday at Santa Ana Stadium, but there were a few exciting moments by way of big plays during the big nonleague game between Edison High and Mater Dei.
There were plenty of lights and cameras — the showdown was the Prep Game of the Week and televised by Fox Sports 1 cable network, but little offensive action. No, not when three of the game's four scores came by way of defense.
Mater Dei cashed in on three turnovers to score all of its points and went on to take a 21-7 victory.
Both the Chargers (2-2) and Monarchs (5-0) showed that sometimes the best offense, is a good defense.
"I thought our defense played great all night, but our offense gave the ball away and it led to a lot of points for them," Edison Coach Dave White said. "Our defense was solid. We just turned the ball over too many times, again, just like we did last week. You won't win many games with four turnovers."
Both offenses were stagnant.
Mater Dei, ranked third in the CIF Southern Section Pac-5 Division, had less than 100 yards on the ground and through the air. The Monarchs mustered less than 190 yards of total offense.
And still won the game.
Edison's offense never reached the end zone, although the Chargers, who were co-No. 1 with La Habra in the Southwest Division coming into the game, repeatedly drove into Mater Dei territory.
Edison appeared to be moving in for a potential score late in the fourth quarter when it reached the Mater Dei 23 where it faced third-and-one, trailing, 14-7. The Chargers, who were six of 13 on third-down conversions to that point, tried a trick play on this particular third down, and it turned out to kill their chances.
Quarterback Christian Heffelman handed the ball off to senior running back Tyler Warren who then pitched the ball back to Heffelman. The pitch was low and Heffelman never got a handle on the ball. It fell loose at the 32 where a host of Monarchs came charging toward Heffelman. Malik McMorris, a 6-foot, 277-pound junior lineman, scooped up the ball and rambled 68 yards the other way for the clinching touchdown.
McMorris, with an entourage of teammates around him, had an open path to the end zone. Johnathan Shenk's point-after kick gave Mater Dei a 21-7 lead with 3:38 remaining.
"We're down seven and it looks like we were going in to score, and we turn the ball over again," White said. "That was the game, right there."
Edison, which already was banged up before the game, lost a key component of its offense early in the second half. Warren took over the rushing load for the Chargers in the third quarter after starter Marcus Swanigan suffered a shoulder injury. The senior didn't return to the game.
Swanigan, who had 77 yards on 15 carries, had his shoulder wrapped and on ice after the game.
The Chargers also didn't have quarterback Matt Gane for the game. White said the junior suffered a groin injury during last week's 31-14 loss to Servite.
The game was scoreless late in the first half when Edison committed its first costly mistake. Starting from their own 47, the Chargers were at the Mater Dei 32 when a third down pass by Heffelman sailed high and was intercepted by defensive back Matthew Rockett. The junior scored untouched on a 65-yard return. The kick failed, but the Monarchs had a 6-0 lead with 4:39 left in the half.
By intermission, the offensive numbers were minimal: Edison had 119 total yards and Mater Dei only 84, and 32 of those yards came on a pass play on the game's first play from scrimmage.
The Monarchs ran just 19 plays from scrimmage in the half.
On the second play of the second half, Swanigan went straight up the middle for a 20-yard gain out to the Mater Dei 47, but fumbled. Monarchs linebacker Adrian Contreras recovered the ball on the spot. Edison got the ball right back, though, as quarterback Chase Forrest was picked off at the Edison 25 by senior defensive back Jeremy Maxwell.
It was the first interception of the season for Forrest.
The Chargers got down to the Mater Dei 43 but a Heffelman pass intended for Maxwell was high and off target and easily intercepted by defensive back Johnny Johnson at the 21.
After the teams traded punts, Edison took its first and only lead when senior defensive back Marcus Epps stepped in front of a Forrest pass at the Edison 40 and raced 60 yards on the return for a touchdown. Epps side-stepped a lunging Forrest inside the Mater Dei 10 to score. Hunter Kelley's kick put the Chargers in front, 7-6, with 4:09 left in the third.
The Monarchs again picked off Heffelman late in the quarter. This time, Heffelman had Epps open at the Edison 37 but Rockett came up with his second interception of the game. His 10-yard return put the Monarchs in business at the Edison 27, and set up the winning score.
Five plays later, senior running back Justin Allen scored on a three-yard run on third-and-goal. Up to that point of the game, the Monarchs had only converted two of seven third-down plays. Forrest then flipped a two-point conversion pass to wide receiver Jonathan Lockett to give the Monarchs a 14-7 lead with 10:26 left in the game.
"Even though we made a lot of mistakes, I think we improved from last week to this week," White said. "Again, our defense played a great game and I thought our offense did some good things. I was proud of the kids."
Edison completes nonleague play Oct. 4, against San Clemente at Huntington Beach High.
14...Los Angeles Garfield...0
Oct. 4: San Clemente (Huntington Beach High), 7 p.m.
Oct. 11: at *Huntington Beach, 7 p.m.
Oct. 18: at *Newport Harbor, 7 p.m.
Oct. 24: *Los Alamitos (Huntington Beach High), 7 p.m.
Nov. 1: vs. *Fountain Valley (OCC), 7 p.m.
Nov. 8: at *Marina (Westminster High), 7 p.m.)
(*denotes Sunset League game)Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun