Dave White said earlier in the week that it was imperative that his Edison Chargers keep mistakes to a minimum and finish offensive drives if they hoped to defeat Servite.
The Chargers drove the ball on the Friars throughout the night and didn't give up an offensive touchdown in the second half of Friday's key CIF Pac-5 Division showdown at Huntington Beach High, but a costly interception return turned the tide and enabled the Friars to come away with a 27-14 victory.
Edison took an early lead in the game but Servite scored the next 27 points to open up a comfortable advantage before 4,831 at Cap Sheue Field. The Friars, however, needed to withstand a late comeback attempt by the Chargers to improve to 4-0 and hold down their top ranking in the Pac-5.
"We moved the ball pretty much all night but the bottom line is, is that we didn't execute consistently," White said after watching his team fall to 3-1. "Defensively, I thought our guys played their butts off. We played hard and didn't quit.
"Servite's a good team and we had to execute better, if we wanted to beat them."
Edison came into the game banged up with four starters sidelined due to injury. Still, with Chase Favreau at quarterback and the defense hitting hard, the Chargers started strong and took it to the Friars at the outset.
Linebacker and team captain Bryce Campbell came up with a fumble recovery at the Edison 21 with 4:34 left in the opening quarter. The senior pounced on a loose ball after Servite's 6-foot-6 wide receiver Sam Hunt fumbled after being hit by a host of Chargers following a 20-yard gain on a pass from quarterback Cody Pittman. The Chargers then used five plays to cover the 79 yards to take their only lead of the game. Favreau gave a quick pump fake, then hit a streaking Troy Baljeu in stride for a 25-yard touchdown. Aleksander Torgersen's point-after put Edison up, 7-0.
The score marked the first time Servite had trailed this season. But the deficit didn't last long.
The Friars responded to Edison's score by coming up with a six-play, 80-yard march that culminated with a 21-yard scoring pass from Pittman to Butch Pauu. Connor Beavans hit the conversion kick but the Friars were called for procedure and backed up five yards. Beavans' next kick was wide right which left the Friars down, 7-6, with 19 seconds left in the quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Beavan's pooch kick was recovered by Connor Hoffman and the Friars were in business at the Edison 22. Working a short field, Andrew Moore scored on a 14-yard run up the middle to put Servite in front for good, 13-7, 10 seconds into the second quarter.
Edison drove into Servite territory on three of its four first-half possessions but only had the one score to show for it.
The Chargers looked as though they'd get the ball back with just over two minutes left in the half with Servite pinned deep in its own territory. But Pittman picked up a huge first down with a seven-yard scramble on third down to keep the drive alive. He then directed a 90-yard march that ended with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Hill with 25 seconds left in the half. Pittman eluded a heavy Edison rush to find a wide-open Hill at the five, and Hill strolled into the end zone.
The Friars led, 20-7, at the half.
Edison took its second possession of the second half and reached the Servite 10 but on first-and-goal, Favreau was chased down and sacked by Pauu for a nine-yard loss. The drive bogged down and the Chargers came away empty when Torgersen's 29-yard field goal attempt was wide left with 4:41 remaining in the third quarter.
Servite gained some breathing room early in the fourth quarter by coming up with the defensive play of the game. Favreau's pass intended for wide receiver Connor Mase sailed high and was intercepted at the Edison 32 by the Friar's Daniel Tejeda who returned it for a touchdown. The pick six put the Servite in front, 27-7, with 8:33 left in the game.
Edison got its final touchdown four minutes later when Elijah Herrera scored on a six-yard run. The junior, who also started at linebacker, was the lone running back for the Chargers who were without the services of injured junior running back Marquis Ross.
"We rotated at tailback earlier this year and tonight we didn't have that luxury," White said. "Poor Elijah had to carry the load tonight. He played real well on both sides of the ball."
Herrera led Edison in rushing with 47 yards. Favreau threw for 267 yards with 142 of those yards going to his Baljeu, his favorite target on the night. Favreau and Campbell, who was in on numerous stops in addition to his fumble recovery, both played outstanding games for the Chargers.