For much of his high school football career, Rod Perry has been considered an excellent wide receiver. But now you can add another definition--game breaker.
The elusive Perry dashed the hopes of Redlands, catching seven passes for 132 yards and scoring three touchdowns in top-ranked Mater Dei’s 34-14 victory in front of an estimated 6,000 at the University of Redlands.
The victory sends Mater Dei (12-0) into the Division I semifinals against Long Beach Poly.
Redlands (9-3) miscalculated twice Friday. First, it tried to stop Perry and David Castleton with man-to-man coverage. Alongside Perry, Castleton caught four passes for 78 yards.
“Our offensive scheme was perfect,” said quarterback Nick Stremick, who passed for 210 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions. “Our coaches put us in the best positions to do things.
“I hardly ever see single coverage,” Perry said. “I hope we can see it again next week.”
But the biggest error came in the fourth quarter. With 8:56 to go and trailing only 21-14, Redlands decided to go for the first down on a fourth and three from its 27. The Mater Dei defense stopped Terrier running back Raheem Ali for no gain. On Mater Dei’s first play, Perry raced 27 yards on a reverse for the clinching touchdown.
“It was a gutsy call,” Monarch Coach Bruce Rollinson said. “I figure they didn’t want to punt into the wind, and they really didn’t want to turn the ball over to us.”
That’s exactly what Redlands Coach Jim Walker was thinking.
“We took a shot and didn’t make it. Then Perry broke our backs,” he said.
Besides the Stremick-Perry-Castleton combo, Mater Dei got strong running from backs James Farley (91 yards, one touchdown), and Mike McNair (92 yards and a touchdown). McNair would get the game’s last score on a two-yard run. A Redlands fumble set it up, just as one set up Perry’s third touchdown.
But the final score was deceiving. Redlands was in the game until the fourth quarter. Along with the two interceptions, Redlands recovered a fumble to stop a Mater Dei drive in the third quarter.
Redlands quarterback Amisho Lewis only attempted five passes, completing two for 16 yards.
Perry’s big night began in the first quarter when Stremick, noticing the Terriers’ defense had only one man on the speedy wideout, threw deep down the right side. Perry easily beat his man to complete a 34-yard touchdown pass.
Larry Miranda jolted the Monarchs by returning the kickoff 79 yards for a score. But Redlands got a 15-yard penalty for hitting late, moving the extra point back to the 17. The kick went wide.
On the next series Perry struck again, this time splitting the Redlands secondary en route to a 54-yard touchdown reception.
When Farley broke loose for a 15-yard touchdown scamper in the second quarter, it appeared the Monarchs were in control.
But when Redlands halted Mater Dei on a fourth-down play late in the half, the Terriers fed off the energy to gobble up 70 yards in five plays, with Linny Hart punching over from five yards. With the two-point conversion, Redlands was back in the game, 21-14.