Pow! Bam! Boom!
Sorry for borrowing terms from a comic book, but that pretty much describes Gardena Serra's third-quarter performance on Friday night in La Puente. The Cavaliers turned loose their many athletes and scored touchdowns on three consecutive possessions against Bishop Amat while letting their defense repeatedly stuff ballcarriers.
After being shut out in the first half, Serra (5-3, 4-0) came away with a 28-12 victory, strengthening its hold on first place in the Mission League while winning its fifth consecutive game after opening the season 0-3.
"They came out and punched us in the mouth in the first half," Serra Coach Scott Altenberg said. "Really it was about our line figuring out what to do."
Bishop Amat (4-3, 2-2) was feeling pretty good at halftime. The Lancers held a 6-0 lead behind a strong defensive effort and field goals of 27 and 34 yards from Shazel Sakr. The Lancers sacked Serra quarterback Jalani Eason four times.
Then the third quarter began, and Serra took charge with the three scores: a 46-yard touchdown run by Randy Anyanwu; an Eason pass to Max Williams for a 27-yard score; and an Eason 10-yard touchdown run.
Meanwhile, the Serra defense, led by linebackers Merlin Robertson, Justin Houston and Tysyn Parker, started flying around the field, shutting down the Lancers' rushing attack and pressuring quarterback Jacob Amaro. At one point, Robertson twice tried to jump on top of piles, sacrificing his body and acting like he was Superman.
"I was in the air a little bit," Robertson said. "We love playing Bishop Amat. It's very intense. We love to fight."
Serra players waved to Bishop Amat students standing in the student section after one touchdown. "My kids love it," Altenberg said earlier in the week about traveling to Bishop Amat. "The fans are right there. They eat it up."
It was Serra's first road game in more than a month. The Cavaliers are making progress in trying to gain a quality playoff spot in Southern Section Division 1. They were missing two starting offensive lineman but came through in the end.
"Our defense kept us in the game until our offense woke up," Altenberg said.
Eason has become comfortable in his role taking over for all-star quarterback Khalil Tate (now at Arizona). He has a 4.3 grade-point average and offers from Navy, Army and Air Force. He rushed for 67 yards and one touchdown and completed 13 of 19 passes for 141 yards and one touchdown.
Bishop Amat was without sophomore quarterback Blake Archuleta (shoulder injury). Amaro completed 18 of 31 passes for 168 yards.
Former Bishop Amat baseball/football standout Rio Ruiz, who made his major league debut for the Atlanta Braves last month, made an appearance in street clothes at the game.