Centennial battles but loses to De La Salle

For pure entertainment value, Saturday night's CIF state championship Open Division bowl game between Corona Centennial and Concord De La Salle at StubHub Center provided more oohs and ahhs than any roller coaster ride.

It was tied 7-7, 14-14, 28-28, 35-35 and 42-42. Back and forth it went, Centennial's no-huddle attack versus De La Salle's bruising veer attack. At times, players playing on defense looked helpless.


In the end, De La Salle (14-0) came away with a 63-42 victory aided by three second-half Centennial turnovers that proved to be the antidote needed to neutralize the Huskies' offense.

What a performance from De La Salle's junior running backs Antoine Custer and Andrew Hernandez. Running behind a dominant offensive line, Custer rushed for 268 yards and scored four touchdowns. Hernandez gained 175 yards and scored three touchdowns.

For Centennial (12-3), receiver Javon McKinley caught six passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns and had a kickoff return for a touchdown.

De La Salle finally got a little cushion in the third quarter after McKinley's 91-yard kickoff return tied the score, 42-42. Custer ran 73 yards for a touchdown, then Hernandez had a two-yard touchdown run for a 55-42 lead.

Two interceptions in the quarter by Cameron Lissarague slowed down the Huskies. Add a fourth-quarter fumble, and Centennial ended up getting shut out over the final 17 minutes.

The first half was full of offense, big plays and lots of highlights that could have been created for a video game.

De La Salle came away with a 35-28 halftime lead, somehow forcing the Huskies to punt once. Meanwhile, Centennial's front seven was being overpowered by De La Salle blockers.

Centennial's quarterbacks, Anthony Catalano and Nate Ketteringham, each had touchdown runs off option plays. McKinley contributed an 87-yard touchdown reception and had a 25-yard touchdown catch in which Ketteringham floated the pass high into the end zone, letting McKinley tip it to himself and catch it over a defender.

De La Salle's Custer and Hernandez ran at will. Custer had first-half touchdown runs of nine and five yards. Hernandez had touchdown runs of 15 and three yards, the latter when he did a somersault into the end zone.

Custer gained 151 yards and Hernandez 124 yards in the first half.

No one should have been surprised at the frantic pace or the offensive excellence.

De La Salle came in averaging 52.2 points per game with its veer attack. Centennial was averaging 46.3 points with its no-huddle, spread offense.

And the spectators got what they wished for, a wild, all-out back-and-forth championship game.