On the opening night of the Pac-5 Division football playoffs, Anaheim Servite turned a tie game at halftime into a rout with three third-quarter touchdowns en route to a 42-21 victory over Westlake Village Westlake on Friday night.
"The third quarter was a big one," said Servite quarterback Travis Waller. "We had to come out strong and put the game away."
It was a good night for the Trinity League. Besides the Friars (6-5), top-seeded Bellflower St. John Bosco defeated Agoura, 69-24, and Santa Ana Mater Dei won over Oaks Christian, 28-17. And Orange Lutheran came close but lost to No. 3-seeded Long Beach Poly, 18-16.
Westlake (8-3), the Marmonte League champions, could never solve the athletic wizardry of Waller, who had touchdown runs of one, seven and three yards, rushed for 96 yards and passed for 124 yards and one touchdown.
"Travis was being Travis," Servite Coach A.J. Gass said of his junior quarterback. "He's the type of kid who makes something out of nothing."
Nick Lopiccola had 112 yards rushing and Tate Beachley scored on a 38-yard run and on a 90-yard kickoff return.
Servite made it through perhaps the toughest schedule of any school in California. There was Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, Long Beach Poly, Concord De La Salle, plus Trinity League games.
"It was murderers' row," said Westlake defensive coordinator Rich Fong. "There's no way to reproduce that kind of speed and talent in practice. You may not get all the wins, but it's a great learning experience."
"I think it's a real big advantage," he said. "When you play in such a tough league, it's preparing you for the playoffs."
The third quarter was all Servite after a 21-21 halftime tie. The Friars scored on three of their four possessions and took advantage of a muffed punt by Westlake.
"We started pounding the ball on the ground, and they couldn't stop it," Gass said.
Westlake put together a 67-yard opening scoring drive, with Malik Henry running 11 yards for a touchdown. Beachley returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. Servite extended its lead to 14-7 on an 85-yard touchdown reception by Tony Brown. A Waller one-yard touchdown run made it 21-7 early in the second quarter.
Then Westlake made a comeback.
Reno Dubreuill powered his way two yards for a touchdown, and the Warriors got a blocked punt from Lexi Isham. On the next play, Nick Rodriguez caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Henry for the halftime tie.
Servite finished with three sacks, including two by Havili Eteaki. Servite will play Mission Hills Alemany in Friday's quarterfinals at Cerritos College. Other quarterfinal matchups include Ventura St. Bonaventure-Poly, St. John Bosco-Tesoro and Mission Viejo-Mater Dei.
Dealing with teams from the Trinity League is the challenge ahead.
"It is the toughest league in California and in the nation," Gass said.