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Mater Dei starts slow, then turns it on in 48-21 victory over Rancho Cucamonga

Mater Dei starts slow, then turns it on in 48-21 victory over Rancho Cucamonga
Shakobe Harper scores Mater Dei's first touchdown Friday night. Harper ran for three scores in the Monarchs' 48-21 victory over Rancho Cucamonga. (Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

Something had to give in Friday night's CIF Southern Section Division 1 semifinal between Santa Ana Mater Dei and Rancho Cucamonga.

The teams entered the game with a combined 24 wins and 1,194 points, but in a battle of prolific offenses, the balanced attack of Mater Dei proved to be unstoppable and the Monarchs pulled away for a 48-21 triumph at Orange Coast College.

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JT Daniels completed 24 of 32 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns as Mater Dei advanced to next Saturday's final at Angel Stadium in Anaheim. The Monarchs will try to capture their sixth CIF title in 28 seasons under Coach Bruce Rollinson. Mater Dei has outscored its three playoff opponents, 180-51.

Rancho Cucamonga jumped out to an early 14-0 lead. Jaylon Redd entered the game with more than 1,800 yards rushing, but it was his 42-yard touchdown catch from Nick Acosta that gave the Cougars a 7-0 lead on their first possession.

On the Monarchs' second drive, a deflected pass fell into the arms of Roy Wiley, who returned it 50 yards up the sideline for a touchdown to put the Cougars ahead 14-0.

The top-seeded Monarchs (13-0) responded with four unanswered touchdowns to take control.

They marched 66 yards in nine plays, scoring on Shakobe Harper's four-yard run to pull within 14-7 late in the first quarter. After recovering a fumble by Sean Dollars near midfield, Mater Dei needed four plays to score, with Harper scoring on a 21-yard run. A blocked punt led to a 13-yard touchdown pass from Daniels to Amon-Ra St. Brown that gave the Monarchs their first lead, 20-14, with 2:10 left in the first half.

St. Brown caught a 10-yard touchdown pass to cap the Monarchs' opening drive of the second half, but Rancho Cucamonga answered on a 67-yard halfback option pass from Thomas Graham to Dollars that pulled the Cougars (12-1) to within 27-21.

Raphael Jones scored on a nine-yard run and Harper scored his third touchdown on a three-yard run to extend the Monarchs' lead to 41-21 with 10:06 remaining. Jones scored his second touchdown on a five-yard run to close out the scoring with 7:10 remaining.

Redd was held to 25 yards in 14 carries and the Cougars scored their fewest points in a game since getting 17 in a Sept. 23 win at Citrus Hill.

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