ENCINO -- The Crespi High football team tried just about everything it could to stop Vernon Adams on Friday night. Nothing worked.
The senior quarterback from Mission Hills Alemany completed 14 of 17 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns and he gained 69 yards on 20 carries and scored another time to guide the visiting Warriors to a 28-17 Serra League victory over the Celts.
"Tonight, I was taking what the defense was giving me,'' Adams said.
Alemany (7-0, 1-0), No. 7 in ESPNLosAngeles.com's Top 25 rankings, opened up a 21-7 lead at halftime. Crespi (5-3, 2-0), No. 12 in the rankings, mounted a second-half rally but came up short.
Crespi was opportunistic in the second half, particularly in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. Noah Ciccel intercepted an Adams pass and returned the ball 38 yards to the Alemany 42-yard line. Shortly thereafter, Patrick McDonough kicked a 26-yard field goal to cut the Warriors lead to 21-17 with 8:25 left.
Alemany responded with a drive of its own to essentially put the game out of reach. The key play came on a third and long as Adams found Corey Sims for 36 yards for a key first down. The Warriors capped things off when Adams hit Saladin McCullough on 9-yard-pass play with 3:41 left to secure an 11-point victory.
"This is a big win for us. I think we wanted it more than Crespi,'' McCullough said. "We came out and did the job we were supposed to do.''
The Crespi defense came up with the first big play of the second half when it forced an Adams fumble and Brandon Arnold recovered the ball at midfield. And the Celts made sure to capitalize on the good field position.
On a third and long, Kenny Stenhouse kept the subsequent drive alive by scrambling for a first down, moving the ball into the red zone. Charles Washington entered the game to run the wildcat offense and ended up scoring on a 10-yard touchdown run to cut Alemany’s lead to 21-14 with 1:58 remaining in the third quarter.
Trailing by a pair of touchdowns at the beginning of the second quarter, Crespi finally got things going on the offensive side of the ball. Ultimately, Stenhouse capped the length of the field drive by throwing a 37-yard touchdown pass to Christopher Harper to cut the deficit to 14-7 with 9:06 left in the first half.
Alemany answered just before the break. Crespi appeared to stop the Warriors on a third and long but the Celts were called for penalty that resulted in an automatic first down. A few plays later, Adams hit Shane Drozdowski in the corner of the end zone to give Alemany a 21-7 lead at intermission.
"Everyone was telling me that my catch was great, I can't wait to watch it on film,'' Drozdowski said.
With the home crowd behind them, the Celts had trouble on their first drive of the game, and subsequently, went three and out.
The Warriors, on the other hand, moved the ball with relative ease the first time they got the ball. On the third play from scrimmage, Adams found McCullough open down the middle for a 76-yard touchdown pass to give Alemany an early 7-0 lead with 8:37 left in the first quarter.
Crespi fared better on its second possession, but the end result was the same as the Celts came away empty. On a third and long from midfield, Stenhouse connected with Devin Lucien to move the ball to the Alemany 17-yard line. A pair of penalties and failed fourth-down conversion gave the ball back to the Warriors.
It didn’t take long for Alemany to score again. Jesse Sampson was on the receiving end of a 46-yard pass from Adams to give the Warriors the ball at Crespi’s 28-yard line. Minutes later, Adams scored on a 12-yard touchdown run to increase the advantage to 14-0 with :18 remaining in the first quarter.
McCullough finished with 34 yards rushing on three carries and had three receptions for 83 yards.
Lucien had four catches for 43 yards. Harper had four receptions for 87 yards. Stenhouse finished 13 of 21 for 196 yards.