Gardena Serra not only got revenge Friday night, the Cavaliers also captured their third CIF Southern Section title in four years with a 30-28 victory over West Hills Chaminade in the Western Division championship game at Serra High.
Serra (12-2) avenged a 28-20 loss to Chaminade in Mission League play on Oct. 5 and put itself in position for a Division II regional bowl berth.
Afterward, Adoree Jackson and teammate Daishon Green took turns doing victory backflips for their fans ... the start of a celebration likely to last into the morning.
“We made the critical plays when we had to do -- that was the difference,” Jackson said. “The [offensive] line did a great job.”
Quarterback Jalen Greene converted a fourth-and-three play at the six-yard line on a draw and Malik Roberson plunged over the goal line on the next play to give Serra a 30-21 lead with 2:27 remaining. Roberson rushed 19 times for 79 yards.
Brad Kaaya’s 44-yard touchdown pass to Elijah Dunston pulled Chaminade (12-2) to within 30-28 with 58 seconds left and the ensuing onside kick was recovered by the Eagles, but officials ruled they had touched the ball before it traveled the required 10 yards. Serra was awarded the ball and proceeded to run out the clock.
“This is the result of a lot of hard work,” Serra running back Marques Rodgers said. “The last time we only played for a half. This time we carried our effort through the whole game. Now I’m hoping we get an opportunity to keep playing.”
Chaminade running back Terrell Newby was stopped inches short on fourth and five at the Serra 27-yard line and the Cavaliers took over on downs with 8:51 left in the fourth quarter. Newby finished the game with 144 yards in 28 carries to end the season with 2,273 yards and 45 touchdowns.
After Kaaya had a pass intercepted by linebacker Dwight Williams at the Eagles’ 23-yard line, Serra took a 17-14 lead on a 38-yard field goal by Ryan Dobson early in the third quarter.
Chaminade, vying for the first section title in the school’s 60-year history, took its first lead, 21-17, when Newby scored on a 29-yard sweep to cap a six-play, 64-yard drive with 5:10 left in the third quarter.
Roberson’s nine-yard run capped a six-play, 60-yard drive that put Serra back in front, 24-21, less than two minutes later.
The Cavaliers scored first when Jackson ran 43 yards on a fake punt midway through the first quarter, but Newby answered with a 24-yard run to cap Chaminade’s next drive and tie the score, 7-7.
Serra took a 14-7 lead on a 46-yard interception return by Williams.
The Eagles pulled even again on Donovan Lee’s 78-yard punt return with 7:02 left in the second quarter.
“We performed great,” Serra center Manase Raikadroka said. “We got off to a slow start, but we pulled it out in the end. We were nervous in the beginning but we found our rhythm.”
Serra won the Division VII title in 1989, won the Northwest Division in 2009 and its first Western Division crown in 2010. The Cavaliers won the Division III state bowl in 2009 and lost the Division II state bowl in 2010.