CERRITOS, Calif. — Servite (Anaheim, Calif.)
coach Troy Thomas ruined everyone's good time Friday night — especially Santa Margarita's.
The Trinity League matchup had lived up to every bit of hype attached to it, all game long. It was such a great contest that the teams extended the enjoyment into an overtime period.
But then Thomas decided to end it. With his team trailing by a point after each squad scored touchdowns in overtime, the Servite coach decided to go for the 2-point conversion. Turns out he made the right call, as Cody Pittman
found Ainslie Johnson
to convert the pass and the Friars (9-1) secured the league title with a 43-42 victory at Cerritos College.
"We hadn't stopped them all night. I said 'Let's end it,'" Thomas said after his team locked up its 19th straight league win. "We asked the kids what they were comfortable running. In crucial situations you want guys comfortable."Manaitovini Pauu
smashed into the end zone to set up the final play of the game, scoring from 4 yards out. More times than not, coaches would kick the extra point and go to a second overtime. But Thomas had his offense line up and run a hard count, trying to bait the Eagles (8-2) offside. It didn't work, so Servite called timeout and then put its trust in Pittman's hands.
The senior quarterback rolled right from the shotgun and decided against two options before finding Johnson all alone in the middle of the end zone. Johnson came from the far left side and found a spot to sit in the end zone — it turned out to be the perfect spot.
"I was surprised, I thought they would be covering me harder," said Johnson, who finished with two catches: a touchdown and the conversion. "There was a little more adrenaline. I just sat down in the hole in the defense."
It was exactly what Pittman told his coach he could do.
"I was begging (Thomas) to go for it," Pittman said. "Coming down to the end, I felt comfortable getting the job done. Why let it go? We made the decision and we said we're family, and no matter what happens you still have guys that love you."
It was an exhilarating end to a game that saw the teams trade touchdowns the entire way. The defenses simply couldn't stop the respective quarterbacks, as there were no turnovers, one total sack, 44 first downs and four punts (none in the first half).
Pittman finished 19-for-22 with 245 yards, two touchdowns and the conversion pass to go alongside 18 carries for 100 yards and a touchdown. Johnny Stanton
was just as electrifying for Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.)
, completing 19 of 29 passes for 275 yards and a touchdown. He was also prolific as a runner, toting the ball 22 times for 115 yards and three touchdowns.
Each quarterback got clutch help from his running back. Pauu scored two rushing touchdowns and one on a screen pass to go with his 61 yards on 16 carries, and Santa Margarita's Ryan Wolpin
rushed 11 times for 33 yards and two touchdowns to go with three catches and 84 yards, 60 of those coming on a screen pass reception for a touchdown.
The victory gave the No. 2 Friars some more breathing room ahead of the No. 4 Eagles in the latest
MaxPreps California Bowl Game Rankings
and gives them a better seed in the Pac-5 Division playoffs. Brackets come out this weekend. NOTES:
Servite's Butch Pauu
is a BYU commit and known for his work at linebacker. On Friday, he was a force on offense with four catches for 107 yards ... Stanton spread the ball to six different receivers for Santa Margarita, Pittman found five ... The first five possessions of the game resulted in touchdowns ... Penalties slowed each team, as Servite was guilty of 12 infractions for 113 yards and Santa Margarita committed 11 for 94 ... Servite's Sean Derosa
was taken from the field on a stretcher after he was hit hard on the opening kickoff of the game.Servite 43, Santa Margarita 42 (Overtime)
S 7 14 7 7 8 — 43
SM 7 7 7 14 7 — 42First quarter
S - Manaitovini Pauu 10 run (Beavans kick) 7:54
SM - Wolpin 1 run (Graham kick) :48Second quarter
S - Johnson 9 pass from Pittman (Beavans kick) 9:17
SM - Wolpin 60 pass from Stanton (Graham kick) 7:01
S - Pittman 5 run (Beavans kick) :42Third quarter
SM - Wolpin 4 run (Graham kick) 6:24
S - Pauu 9 pass from Pittman (Beavans kick) 1:21Fourth quarter
SM - Stanton 11 run (Graham kick) 11:24
S - Pauu 3 run (Beavans kick) 7:05
SM - Stanton 7 run (Graham kick) 1:50Overtime
SM - Stanton 4 run (Graham kick)
S - Pauu 2 run (Johnson pass from Pittman)