COSTA MESA — Earlier in the week, Dave White felt that his Edison High football team needed to be at its best to beat Servite, the sixth-ranked team in the CIF Southern Section Pac-5 Division. The veteran head coach was right, but that wasn't the case for the Chargers Thursday at Orange Coast College.
Early turnovers, and the inability to take advantage of scoring opportunities, hurt Edison's chances in the nonleague showdown. Servite, though, set the tone from the start and went on to claim a 31-14 victory.
The setback snapped an eight-game regular-season win streak for Edison dating to a 20-14 loss last September to Mater Dei. It put the Chargers, the top-ranked team in the CIF Southern Section Southwest Division, at 2-1 overall.
The 31 points were the most given up by the Chargers in a regular-season game since surrendering 42 to Mater Dei in a 42-14 loss during the 2007 season.
"We weren't good enough," White said. "We needed to be, but we weren't. I think we had three turnovers in the first half, which hurt us, and we had a penalty at the [Servite] one, that also cost us.
"They are good and we are average right now, but we'll get better."
The Friars, who have won three straight to improve to 3-1, scored on the opening possession of the game and never trailed. They marched downfield and three straight running plays by Tate Beachley ended the drive. The junior running back scored on a one-yard run, two plays after he had rambled 28 yards to put the ball at the Edison three-yard line.
Then, Edison made its first mistake.
On its first possession, Edison quarterback Matt Gane took off on a keeper for 13 yards near midfield, but the junior coughed up the ball when hit, and the Friars recovered at the Edison 47. A pass-interference call on first down against the Chargers moved the ball down to the 32. On the next play, senior running back Nick Lopiccola took off around left end and down the Edison sideline, broke a tackle at the 13, and cut across the field to the end zone. The 32-yard burst put the Friars in front, 13-0, with 5:25 still left in the first quarter.
Another mistake by the Chargers, a low snap during a fourth-down punting situation, set Servite up in great field position. The Friars took over on downs at the Edison 32. They settled for a 35-yard field goal by Andrew Acosta to increase their lead to 16-0 early in the second quarter.
Edison crept back into contention moments later when senior Kiante Goudeau returned the ensuing kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown. His big return, and Hunter Kelley's kick, brought the Chargers to within 16-7 with 10:05 left in the half.
The Chargers had a golden opportunity to further slice into the Servite lead when the Friars were forced to punt on their next possession. Acosta's knee touched the turf on his punt attempt, and the Chargers got the ball at the Servite 6.
A five-yard run on first down by Gane took the ball to the one. The Chargers, though, gave back the five yards on the next play when they were hit with a procedure penalty. On second-and-goal from the six, Gane fumbled on a keeper and Servite lineman Adam O'Shea made the recovery at the 10 with 5:31 left until halftime.
"We got a gift right there, and we gave it right back to them," White said.
Edison again played give away at the outset of the second half, and it cost the Chargers another opportunity to close the gap.
Starting the third quarter at their own 30, the Chargers moved down to the Servite 28. During the drive, senior running back Marcus Swanigan had a 12-yard run and also made a great, one-handed grab of a Gane pass that went for 16 yards on a third-and-nine play to put the ball at the Servite 42. A roughing-the-passer call against the Friars moved the ball to the 28 but on second down, Gane was pursued in the backfield but was able to get off a pass that was up for grabs in the end zone. It was intercepted by defensive back Christian Packard.
"We had some momentum going there and a chance to get back in the game," White said, the disappointment, obvious, when contemplating what could have been.
Still, Edison was able to hang around but Servite took control by mounting a 77-yard scoring drive that ate up the latter half of the third-quarter clock. The Friars twice converted fourth-down plays to keep the drive alive, and Lopiccola did the scoring honors on a thee-yard run. Quarterback Travis Waller ran in a two-point conversion to extend the lead to 24-7 with 28 seconds left in the quarter.
Edison went for it on a fourth-and-four play from its own 46 on its next possession, but senior Christian Heffelman, now in at quarterback for the Chargers, was sacked by linemen Christopher Melvin and Andrew Carrillo IV. Servite took over at the Edison 39, and Waller would score on an eight-yard keeper on a fourth-down run to make it 31-7 with 5:25 remaining.
Edison scored a late touchdown when Heffelman threw a 20-yard pass to senior receiver Jeremy Maxwell with 20 seconds left.
The Chargers will meet a second Trinity League team next week when they head to Santa Ana Bowl Sept. 27 to face Mater Dei.
The Monarchs, who are 3-0 and play at Santa Monica Friday, are ranked third in the Pac-5 Division.
"We have another tough one coming up, and a lot of work to do," White said.
Edison Results (2-1)
14...Los Angeles Garfield...0
Sept. 27: at Mater Dei (Santa Ana Bowl), 7 p.m.
Oct. 4: San Clemente (Huntington Beach High), 7 p.m.
Oct. 11: at *Huntington Beach, 7 p.m.
Oct. 18: at *Newport Harbor, 7 p.m.
Oct. 24: *Los Alamitos (Huntington Beach High), 7 p.m.
Nov. 1: vs. *Fountain Valley (OCC), 7 p.m.
Nov. 8: at *Marina (Westminster High), 7 p.m.)
(*denotes Sunset League game)