California running game too much for Serra
For Serra coach Tony St. Angelo, having a young squad can at times be quite trying.
That youth was on display Friday night as the hosts seemed overwhelmed at times during their 56-28 loss to California. Trojan running back Lester McGriff ripped the Eagles for 269 yards on only nine carries. Fellow running back James Bongiorno added 94 yards on 12 carries. The Trojans abused the young Eagles' defense for five scores on their first 15 plays in an efficient display of offense.
“On defense, it seems like it is a continuing trend, we just can tackle,” St. Angelo said. “We're missing tackles. We're diving. But then the kids come out in the second half and show that they can tackle. That is the frustrating thing.”
By the time the Eagles (1-5, 1-3 Black Hills Conference) started tackling, the Trojans already had 49 points on the board.
McGriff and company got the party started after Zac Quattrone threw an interception near midfield. The running back began the scoring barrage with a 52-yard scamper. His second score came on their next drive when he barreled 23 yards through a befuddled Eagles defense, giving the visitors an early 14-0 lead.
“He really gives us an extra dimension, a home-run threat,” California coach Bo Teets added. “We started off the year throwing the ball a lot. Now we are able to run with him in the backfield.”
Quattrone got the Eagles on the board midway through the first when he ran 36 yards for a score. His two-point pass fell incomplete, leaving the score 14-6.
Bongiorno struck back on the Trojans' very next offensive play when he took a draw handoff and raced 69 yards for a touchdown. Devon Peterman's kick was true, pushing the Trojans (2-3, 2-2) ahead, 21-6.
Serra responded with a crisp 73-yard scoring drive that was capped by Hamdan Wyatt's 2-yard scoring plunge. Grant Taylor's kick was good, cutting California's lead to 21-14 in the first.
“We felt if we could just get a lead, we could run the ball and grind some clock,” St. Angelo added. “Unfortunately, that did not happen.”
McGriff put any comeback hopes to bed with an 80-yard scoring burst late in the first, restoring the Trojans' two-score advantage.
California then scored three unanswered touchdowns in the second quarter to salt the game away. The first came when Bongiorno hauled in a 49-yard strike from Austin Hunter.
Hunter added a 1-yard scoring plunge, and Gavin Anderson contributed a 2-yard scoring run to close the half.
McGriff ended his evening in style with a 75-yard burst down the sideline that resulted in a score and a 56-14 California lead in the third period. But Serra would not quit as Quattrone found Joe Satira for a 21-yard score and finished the evening with a 10-yard scamper late in the fourth.
“It's a learning experience for all us, including me,” St. Angelo said. “We are very young across the board.”
St. Angelo said he was encouraged by the team's offensive output.
“I personally feel we can run the ball well enough, but when you fall behind like we did, it is tough,” he said. “We know we can grind it out. I feel we can move the ball on anyone.”
Quattrone finished with 183 yards rushing on 21 carries.
Dave Whipkey is a freelance writer.