Having cruised to one-sided victories in its first two games, Edison figured to face its toughest challenge in the early stages of the 2010 football season when it hosted Dana Hills on Thursday at Huntington Beach High.
The Chargers were indeed tested — and they passed.
Edison jumped out to a seemingly safe 20-point lead on the Dolphins early in the second half, then had to withstand a spirited Dana Hills rally and last-minute drive to come away with a 27-21 win at Sheue Field.
The Chargers (3-0) had built their 27-7 lead by taking the second half kickoff and piecing together an eight-play, 58-yard drive that culminated in an 11-yard touchdown run by Nick Masaniai on a third-and-eight play. Masaniai had kick-started the drive by returning the second-half kickoff 41 yards to set up the Chargers at their own 42 yard line, then was the workhorse on the drive when his number was called on six of the nine plays.
Dana Hills (2-1), which came in averaging 50 points a game, got its offense in gear on its next two possessions, thanks to senior quarterback Trent Mason. On the Dolphins' ensuing possession following Masaniai's score, Mason had big runs on key keepers, including a 12-yard a gain on a third-and-nine play. On the next play, Chris Kearney scored out of the I-formation and Brenden Beckley's kick cut the Chargers' lead to 27-14 with 2:51 left in the third quarter.
Edison marched right back, moving from its own 15 out to the Dana Hills 27 yard line. The drive stalled, however, when Tanner Denso sacked Chargers quarterback Chase Favreau — the Dolphins' only sack of the game. On fourth down, Favreau threw incomplete and Dana Hills took over. A couple of keepers by Mason, followed by a pass interference call on the Chargers put the Dolphins at the Edison 40 with 9:12 left in the fourth quarter. Mason then broke several tackles on a quarterback draw to get 15 more yards and put the ball at the 25. The drive ended six plays later when running back Tyler Shirozono scored on a three-yard run. With Beckley adding the point after, Dana Hills was now within 27-21 with half the fourth quarter to go.
The Dolphins then held Edison and got the ball back, starting from their own 35 after Kearney's 14-yard punt return with 2:53 left on the clock. Facing a crucial third-and-three from his own 37, Mason broke away from the grip of Chargers linebacker Colby Bastedo in the Dana Hills backfield and turned a potential five-yard loss into an 18-yard gain by breaking tackles and barreling his way down to the Edison 45. The Chargers were also called for a face mask on the play and Dana Hills was now at the 39 with 2:07 left.
Edison's defense, which hadn't given up a point in its first two games, buckled down with the game on the line. It held Mason to a yard on a first-down run. On second down, Mason hit Kearney in the flat but the senior receiver was hit immediately by linebacker Michael Douthwaite and then dropped for a three-yard loss by defensive back Eric Zumwalt. Mason's third-down pass, intended for Mathias Bedolfe, was broken up at the Edison 25 by linebacker Roland Blackiston. On fourth-and-13 from the 41, Charles Burks broke through to rip down Mason, who flung a desperation heave that landed nowhere near a receiver.
The Chargers took over with on downs and ran out the remaining 48 seconds.
That final defensive stand echoed a standout defensive effort by the Chargers in the first half.
On the game's second play from scrimmage, senior defensive back Dejean King intercepted Mason at the Dana Hills 37. The Chargers moved down to the 11b but the drive stalled and a 28-yard field goal attempt by junior Gavin Perdomo was wide right. The Dolphins might have dodged that bullet, but they suffered a big letdown three plays later when Perdomo scooped up a fumble by Mason and returned it 12 yards for the game's first score. Perdomo also added the point after and Edison led, 7-0, midway through the first quarter.
Dana Hills marched down to the Edison 34 late in the quarter but Burks and senior linebacker Max McCourt combined on a seven-yard sack of Mason on fourth down. The Chargers responded with a nice drive that concluded with a great run by Favreau. On third-and-10 from his own 19, Favreau ran to his right and found open field, then put a nice fake move on Denso at the nine-yard line and sprinted into the end zone. Perdomo's kick put Edison up, 14-0, with 9:08 left in the half.
The Edison defense recorded one more turnover in the half when Blackiston pounced on a Mason fumble at midfield. Four plays later, Favreau was right on the money to Baljeu for a 31-yard scoring pass and Perdomo's third PAT of the game boosted the lead to 21-0.
Dana Hills got on the scoreboard just before intermission when Shirozono turned Mason's shovel pass into a 12-yard score with 1:52 left in the half.
Both Favreau and Mason displayed their passing and running abilities in the game. Favreau, in just his second game, threw for 155 yards and ran for 91 more. Mason threw for 112 yards and was the game's top rusher with 131 yards. Masaniai rushed for 110 yards on 19 carries and Baljeu had five receptions for 94 yards.
Edison, which has beaten Dana Hills four times in the last three years, faces an even bigger test Sept. 24 when it takes on Servite at Cerritos College in Norwalk.
The Friars defeated Edison in the CIF Pac-5 Division championship game last December.