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Orange Lutheran is top of heap

Times Staff Writer

A few years ago, Orange Lutheran could count on getting to the Southern Section title game, only to lose to Ventura St. Bonaventure in a small-schools showdown.

The Lancers have come a long way from Division XI, and on Saturday at the Home Depot Center in Carson, solidified themselves as a true upper-echelon team with a 30-20 Pac-5 Division victory over Huntington Beach Edison.

The victory was the Lancers’ second title in three years, but their first since moving into the section’s premier division. A year ago, they were the second-seeded team in Division VI but were upset in the first round.

Not this time.

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Orange Lutheran (13-1) emerged from arguably the toughest field in section history, culminating with its performance behind USC-bound quarterback Aaron Corp, who rushed for two second-quarter touchdowns of three and seven yards, and passed for two second-half touchdowns of seven yards to Austin Pettis and 50 to Blake Ayles.

Corp, who directed Lutheran to the Division VI title as a sophomore, averaged 197.1 yards a game passing and 84.3 rushing this season. He also completed 71% of his passes.

Orange Lutheran built a 23-0 lead, just as it did a week ago in a 23-22 victory over Long Beach Poly, before Edison rallied with two touchdown passes by Nick Crissman, of seven yards to Justin Venus and 13 yards to Dominique Vinson.

Orange Lutheran’s defense also came up big, getting two turnovers inside its own 20-yard line, a fumble recovery by Jeremiah Pemasa at the 13 after a 20-yard pass completion to Hunter White, and an interception at the eight by Austin Pettis, who wrestled the ball away from White on what would have been a 23-yard completion.

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Edison (11-3), in its fifth final, was looking for its first championship since it shared the title with Long Beach Poly in 1985. It lost to Long Beach Poly in 2001.

Lutheran had won only one of its previous six title games, in 2004 when Corp was a sophomore.

For Lutheran, it also likely means another week of football as the South’s likely Division II representative in the State Bowl Championship games next Saturday at Home Depot Center, probably against Palo Alto (12-1), the Central Coast Section Open champion.

martin.henderson@latimes.com

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