SANTA ANA -- For the fourth consecutive game, Mater Dei played an opponent in which the result came down to the final moments. This time, though, the Monarchs won. Avoiding an 0-4 start for the first time since 1951 -- the school's first year -- Mater Dei drove 80 yards in the final 83 seconds to defeat Edison, 22-20, in a nonleague game Friday.
On their home turf at Santa Ana Stadium and with the last two seconds ticking off the clock, junior quarterback Ryan McMahon managed to find time in the backfield and find Thomas Duarte in the back of the end zone for the game-winning 15-yard touchdown pass.
Fans streamed onto the field, Edison players dropped in stunned disappointment, and Mater Dei finally had its first victory of the season.
McMahon finished 23 of 34 for 269 yards and two touchdowns and two interceptions. Duarte had eight receptions for 99 yards, catching both TDs.
It was a huge game for both teams, Mater Dei (1-3) because it desperately needed a victory after losing to three teams ranked in the ESPNLA top 25 -- Carson, Corona Centennial and in overtime to San Clemente -- and Edison (3-2) because it needed to avoid a two-game losing streak heading into its Sunset League opener against the other league favorite, No. 25 Los Alamitos (4-1).
It wasn't pretty by any means for Mater Dei, which committed five turnovers. One of those was an interception by Bryce Campbell that was returned 34 yards for a touchdown, another was an interception by Sedric Hill -- a transfer from Mater Dei -- that also went the distance but was negated by a personal foul; nevertheless, Edison took its first lead, 20-16, on that possession when Elijah Herrera scored from 14 yards with 3:58 remaining.
Mater Dei started from the 20, but Duarte fumbled after a reception with 2:20 left. The Mater Dei defense forced a punt, setting up the final drive. All but one of the 11 plays was a pass.
The last one, though was improvisation at its best.
"I was running over middle, [McMahon] broke left, I borke down and cut back the other way and put my arms up in the air and he put it right on the money," said Duarte, who admitted the catch wasn't exactly a gimme.
"It was pretty tough because of what was on the line. I knew I had it in me. I couldn't let our fans down."