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Edison football, backup quarterback Tyler Gioia overcome obstacles to beat Murrieta Valley

Edison's Troy Fletcher (21) celebrates with teammates after intercepting a pass for a touchdown  against Murrieta Valley.
Edison’s Troy Fletcher (21) celebrates with teammates after intercepting a pass for a touchdown during a CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoff opener against Murrieta Valley on Friday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

For a lot of teams, learning that their starting quarterback would be unavailable the day before a game would put them back on their heels.

Such news had the opposite effect for the Edison High School football team, which seemed to only get bolder with its offensive game plan.

Tyler Gioia threw for 294 yards and four touchdowns, leading the No. 4-seeded Chargers over Murrieta Valley 42-14 Friday in a first-round game of the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs at Huntington Beach High School.

Edison (8-3) advanced to play at Inglewood (10-0) in the quarterfinals. A week after handing its crosstown rival Morningside a much-criticized 106-0 defeat, Inglewood beat Ventura St. Bonaventure 26-10.

Edison quarterback Tyler Gioia (10) throws during a CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoff game against Murrieta Valley.
Edison quarterback Tyler Gioia (10) throws against Murrieta Valley on Friday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“From here on out, every game’s a battle,” Gioia said. “And we love to face battles, so we’re going to face every tackle head on, and hopefully we execute like this again, and I see no team beating us if we do what we did tonight.”

The Chargers found out Thursday that they would be without starting quarterback Parker Awad, who was ruled out due to contact tracing of a COVID-19 case.

Obviously, it was a bit of a gut punch, but that’s just the way it is,” Edison coach Jeff Grady said. “Parker handled it like you’d expect a guy like Parker to handle it, you know, with class and wishing his teammates well.

“I feel for him. The team obviously feels for him because they know how hard he works, how much time he puts in, but we still have to play, and guys stepped up and did a good job.”

Edison's Troy Fletcher runs down the sideline for a touchdown after intercepting a pass against Murrieta Valley on Friday.
Edison’s Troy Fletcher runs down the sideline for a touchdown after intercepting a pass.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Gioia, who returned to the field earlier this season after rehabbing from an ACL tear suffered in the spring season, came out firing. His first pass went for a 22-yard touchdown to Tucker Tripp immediately following a turnover.

In fact, the Chargers did not use a running play until the final play of the first half.

“That just shows the strength of our receivers and the trust that we have in them and our [offensive] line, … but that was the game plan, and we executed beautifully,” Gioia said. “That’s what’s going to happen when you execute like that.”

Edison’s defense was opportunistic, seizing the momentum right away. Troy Fletcher returned an interception for a 65-yard touchdown on the opening possession.

Then Peyton Gregory came up with the first of his two fumble recoveries in the game to set up the Gioia-to-Tripp scoring strike on the next play, establishing an early 14-0 lead.

Edison's Tucker Tripp makes a catch backing up on the run for a touchdown against Murrieta Valley on Friday.
Edison’s Tucker Tripp makes a catch backing up on the run for a touchdown.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“Our kickoff team was flying,” Gregory said. “We knew that we had to come into this game playing all three levels as fast as we could, just like we did, and the special teams is a big momentum-changer in every single football game, and if a fumble pops out, then I’m going to jump on that ball.”

Mason York paced the receiving corps for Edison with 94 yards and a touchdown, followed closely by Tyler Hampton, who made four catches for 92 yards and a score.

Troy Fletcher rushed for 84 yards and a touchdown, and Ty Bandaruk also found the end zone on his lone reception.

Fletcher has had some big games on the ground for the Chargers this season, and he showed that explosiveness over just seven carries for the game. He also had four catches for 41 yards, but it was his two interceptions that were most impactful.

“I enjoy both sides [of the ball],” Fletcher said. “I love it. Anywhere I can contribute, I love it.”

Travis Karg compiled 68 rushing yards and a touchdown for Murrieta Valley (7-4), the Southwestern League champion. Asa Chatman also had a rushing touchdown for the Nighthawks.

Edison defenders tackle Murrieta Valley quarterback Brandon Rose, who fumbles the ball in the process on Friday.
Edison defenders tackle Murrieta Valley quarterback Brandon Rose, who fumbles the ball in the process.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs

Edison 42, Murrieta Valley 14

Murrieta Valley 7 – 0 – 0 – 7 — 14

Edison 21 – 7 – 14 – 0 — 42

FIRST QUARTER

E — Fletcher 65 interception return (Preston kick), 6:50.

E — Tripp 22 pass from Gioia (Preston kick), 6:31.

MV — Chatman 1 run (Serna kick), 3:13.

E — Bandaruk 13 pass from Gioia (Preston kick), 1:06.

SECOND QUARTER

E — Hampton 15 pass from Gioia (Preston kick), 9:38.

THIRD QUARTER

E — Fletcher 13 run (Preston kick), 6:34.

E — York 30 pass from Gioia (Preston kick), 2:17.

FOURTH QUARTER

MV — Karg 17 run (Serna kick), 6:18.

INDIVIDUAL RUSHING

MV — Karg, 14-68, 1 TD.

E — Fletcher, 7-84, 1 TD.

INDIVIDUAL PASSING

MV — Rose, 19-33-2, 189.

E — Gioia, 17-22-0, 294, 4 TDs.

INDIVIDUAL RECEIVING

MV — Lamprey, 7-59; Young, 5-52.

E — York, 3-94, 1 TD; Hampton, 4-92, 1 TD.

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