San Diego Cathedral runs past Orange Lutheran for bowl win

San Diego Cathedral players celebrate on the field after defeating Orange Lutheran.
San Diego Cathedral players celebrate during an award ceremony after defeating Orange Lutheran in the Southern California Division 1-AA regional bowl game on Friday.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

State football playoff matchups are supposed to be based on competitive equity, and Friday night’s Division 1-AA regional game between San Diego Cathedral and Orange Lutheran at Orange Coast College produced a wild back-and-forth offensive slugfest won by Cathedral 71-62.

Lucky Sutton, a senior running back with a scholarship offer from San Diego State, had seven touchdowns, including runs of 62, 45, 63, 75, 76 and one yard for Cathedral. Desmin Jackson of Orange Lutheran had touchdown runs of 18, 42 and 76 yards.

The score was tied at 7-7, 13-13, 27-27 and 34-34. By the end of the third quarter, Cathedral held a 43-40 lead after Jaylen Lynch caught a 38-yard touchdown pass from Logan Gonzalez with three seconds left.


But Orange Lutheran’s defense wilted badly in the fourth quarter, allowing the Dons to pull away. The Dons poured it on with a 76-yard touchdown run by Sutton and a 27-yard touchdown catch by Darian Whaley for 64-47 lead.

Cathedral (10-2) will play Folsom in next Friday’s Division 1-AA bowl final at Saddleback College. Folsom defeated Concord De La Salle 28-27. Orange Lutheran finishes 10-5 under first-year coach Rod Sherman.

Sutton finished with 435 yards rushing in 27 carries. He also caught a touchdown pass. Whaley rushed for 118 yards. Jackson had 204 yards rushing in 13 carries. Gonzalez of Orange Lutheran passed for 435 yards and five touchdowns. Lynch had 11 receptions for 180 yards and four touchdowns.

After a wild second quarter that featured seven touchdowns, the third quarter saw more offense. Whaley ran 51 yards for a touchdown on Cathedral’s first possession of the second half for a 34-27 lead. Then Jackson ran 76 yards for a touchdown to tie the score at 34-34. Tanoai Letuli sacked Gonzalez in the end zone for a safety and a 36-34 Cathedral lead. He had three sacks. Sutton followed with a 63-yard touchdown run for a 43-34 lead.

The first half was as entertaining as it gets for people who like offense. It ended with Cathedral quarterback Charlie Mirer completing a 15-yard touchdown pass to Deric Woo, then completing a two-point conversion pass for a 27-27 halftime tie.

Gonzalez had touchdown passes of 35 yards to Lynch and 33 yards to Malik Blackmon. Jackson rushed for 126 yards in nine carries in the first half and had touchdown runs of 18 and 42 yards. Sutton flashed his speed in scoring on touchdown runs of 62 and 45 yards and also caught a touchdown pass.

Cathedral was running the Delaware Wing T but hardly focused on just running. The Lancers struggled having tacklers to confront Sutton after an initial attempt. Once he eluded the first tackler, twice there was no one to finish the job and he simply outran his pursuers. He had 178 yards rushing in the first two quarters.

One reason Southern Section Division 2 champion Orange Lutheran has been making weekly improvement since the late summer hiring of Sherman is the staff of assistants he brought in. The offensive coordinator is former Orange Lutheran and USC quarterback Aaron Corp. Coaching the offensive line is former Santa Ana Mater Dei and UCLA lineman Chris Ward. The fact that players from USC and UCLA can get along shows that Sherman knows how to pick assistants.

“Aaron didn’t finish there, so it made it easier,” Sherman said.

Corp transferred to Richmond after playing for USC and was coaching at Norfolk State when Sherman invited him to return to the school he helped win a state Division II bowl title as quarterback in 2006.

“I don’t think I would have come for any other offer,” Corp said.

Ward, a former Mater Dei assistant, opened an offensive line coaching business when he was recruited by Sherman to return to high school coaching. He has been influential in the rise of lineman Zachary Miller, who has a Colorado offer.

Year 1 is over for Orange Lutheran but the future looks bright.