COSTA MESA – The defense, Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson said earlier this week, would have to carry his team this season. On Friday night, the Monarchs put their backs into it. Led by Miguel Sandoval, Joseph Schmidt and two turnovers in the first three minutes that led to quick touchdowns, Mater Dei won for the second week in a row against an ESPNLA.com top 25 opponent.
This time the Monarchs defeated No. 15 Edison, 27-7, in a nonleague contest that was never in doubt. Not after the start that the Mater Dei got.
“They're going to talk about Max Wittek and Victor Blackwell, and deservedly so, but we were rocking on defense,”Rollinson said. “The interception was huge, we had a bunch of sacks, put pressure on Chase (Favreau) the whole night -- he never got comfortable, and I commend him for going, the word is he didn't practice all week (because of a sprained ankle).
“I challenged both fronts, and I challenged the defensive line right before we came out to make something happen and they did. . . . You hold them to seven points, that's a heck of a defensive effort.”
There were two sacks, but three other plays in which Favreau -- who transferred from Mater Dei (2-2) to Edison (3-2) -- was tackled for a loss. After the interception, the defense forced a Favreau fumble that also set up a short score, and it limited the potent Edison offense to 120 yards -- 33 came on the final series as it ran out the clock.
After losing to Carson and Centennial, the latter in an embarrasing 44-13 loss, the defense's attitude -- and that of the whole team -- has changed as it has now beaten San Clemente and Edison with impressive performances.
“In the locker room, it's serious,” said Freddie Mora, who intercepted a pass and also filled in at tailback. “We just come out hard and throw the first punch and don't let back. We're working harder and we're not joking no more. We're a serious team.”
For the second week in a row, Edison met a defense that was in a different league. It was looking to rebound from a 16-9 loss to Servite but instead got bounced.
“That was a (butt) whipping," Edison coach Dave White said. "We struggled just like last week. Them and Servite are very good teams right now. We're not a very good team right now.”
Edison trailed 13-0 before the outstanding playmaker Blackwell ever touched the ball, and no matter how much the Monarchs might be struggling, that's the first step toward disaster. Both of Edison's first two possessions ended quickly in turnovers.
On the third play of the Edison's first series, Mora intercepted a pass by Favreau and returned it 31 yards to the eight-yard line. Mater Dei scored two plays later as Josh Valdivia scored from two yards.
Favreau also fumbled after being hit by several players, including Schmidt, that gave the Monarchs possession at the 25. Mater Dei scored four plays later as Wittek passed to Joshua Cook, who took the short pass, cut inside the defender and then leaped over Allen Atkins in a YouTube moment.
Rollinson showed confidence in both his offense and his defense as the night progressed. On Mater Dei's next two possessions, rather than kick a field goal, it went for it on fourth down. The first came at the Edison seven-yard line on fourth-and-three but Wittek overthrew Blackwell in the end zone; the second came on fourth-and-five at the 31, and Wittek passed successfully to Cook. It kept alive a 55-yard drive that ended with Wittek's nine-yard run for a 20-0 lead with 4:21 left in the half.
Edison didn't get its first first down – apart from a roughing the kicker penalty earlier in the drive -- until 1:39 remained in the first half, and on that play, Favreau ran 20 yards on a third-and-15 situation. It was part of a 13-play, 76-yard drive that culminated in Favreau's seven-yard pass to Dejean King with 27 seconds left.
Wittek completed 18 of 29 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns. Blackwell, a USC commit like Wittek, caught seven passes for 93 yards.
Favreau was limited to four of 12 passing for 56 yards.