Bill Redell, Crespi High School coach, summed up a 42-28 nonleague loss to Mater Dei Thursday in Santa Ana Stadium perfectly:
“We just can’t stop anybody. Haven’t all year.”
Mater Dei (4-4) scored on 4 of its 6 possessions in the second half. The first half ended, 14-14.
Kealii Clifford, a senior running back, led the Monarchs’ big second half. Clifford rushed for 194 yards and 3 touchdowns in 25 carries to outdistance Russell White, Crespi’s record-breaking back.
White, who sat out the second quarter after taking a hard hit after catching a pass, gained 27 yards in 10 carries. However, he caught 10 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown.
White, who broke the state record for career rushing last week, caught a shovel pass from quarterback Ron Redell and ran 38 yards for a score to give Crespi (4-4) a 7-0 lead. But that was the highlight for Russell-watchers among the 4,000 in Santa Ana Stadium.
Instead, Clifford provided the big plays, gaining 166 yards in the second half. He scored on runs of 1, 15 and 7 yards.
Quarterback Danny O’Neil and receiver Tony Pena also gave Crespi’s defense fits.
O’Neil completed 11 of 17 passes for 230 yards and 1 touchdown, a bomb to Pena that covered 50 yards. O’Neil also ran for touchdowns of 16 and 1 yards.
Pena, Orange County’s leading receiver, caught 6 passes for 143 yards.
“No excuse,” Bill Redell said. “We just got handled. Their offense handled our defense.”
Still, Crespi was within a touchdown, 35-28, with 5:41 left. The Celts had scored on their previous series and had just held Mater Dei for one of the few times all night.
But a run lost a yard, another shovel pass gained it back, then Ron Redell was sacked for a 4-yard loss and Crespi was forced to punt.
“I thought we could score (on that drive),” Bill Redell said. “But our running game wasn’t going anywhere. It was all passing.”
Ron Redell completed 20 of 30 for 270 yards for 1 touchdown. He also had a 48-yard touchdown run with 4:14 left in the third quarter that cut a 28-14 Mater Dei lead to 28-21.
Clifford scored on a 7-yard run with 9:57 left push the Monarchs’ lead to 35-21.
Quinn Fauria, Crespi running back, scored on a 1-yard run 2 minutes later to cut it to 35-28. O’Neil added a 1-yard dive for a touchdown with 26 seconds left that accounted for the final points.