There are two things one can expect from a matchup between Narbonne and Gardena Serra.
First, there will be future college players on both sides of the football.
And second, the game will feature a handful of twists and turns and the winner won’t be decided until the waning moments.
The latest edition of this storied rivalry featured both of the above with linebacker Alonso Person coming up with the game-saving play.
With clinging to a seven-point lead with Serra driving on the Gauchos’ 30-yard line and less than a minute to play, Person anticipated a pass from Doug Brumfield in the flat, broke on it, and got enough of his hand on the football to knock it away from a receiver who would have had first-down yardage.
Person’s pass deflection sealed the 28-21 nonleague home victory for Narbonne over previously unbeaten Serra and capped a strong team defensive effort.
“Alonso is so long and it’s so deceptive for opposing quarterbacks,” Narbonne interim coach Joe Aguirre said. “You don’t realize how long he is in the flat and we worked on it all week.”
“We have a lot of talent on defense,” Person added. “We have to clean some things up with penalties, and when we do that, I don’t think anyone can match-up with us.”
No. 6 Narbonne improved to 4-1 on the season and took home its fourth straight victory over No. 9 Serra (3-1).
It was a slow start offensively for both teams as Narbonne took a 13-7 lead into halftime, but star receiver Traeshon Holden jump-started things for the Gauchos in the second half by taking the opening kick of the third quarter back for an 80-yard touchdown to give Narbonne a 20-7 lead.
Serra’s Lavon Bunkley answered quickly by intercepting Narbonne’s Jake Garcia and scoring on a 65-yard return at the 6:43 mark of the third, cutting its deficit to 20-14.
Garcia helped the Gauchos regain a two-score lead on a 27-yard pass to Holden, which was followed by atwo-point conversion pass from Holden to Anthony Beavers, giving the Gauchos a 28-14 advantage with 5:34 to play.
Serra responded yet again as Brumfield connected with Lavon Bunkley on a 36-yard touchdown pass with 3:32 left.
Narbonne went for it on fourth and short at midfield on its final possession of the game, turning it over on downs with under two minutes to play.
Serra mounted a strong effort on its final drive but couldn’t convert as Person’s deflected pass sealed the win.