LA VERNE -- The Bonita offense amassed only 30 yards and had the ball for less than three minutes in the first half, but managed to pull out a 21-16 win over La Serna in the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Southeast Division playoffs on Saturday night.
Bonita’s Giomani Johnson and K.C. Huth teamed up on a pair of plays that resulted in one touchdown and a turnover to keep the game close.
Bonita coach Eric Podley said his team should have been down 40-0 the way it played in the first half. Big plays on special teams and defense kept the game tight. The first one came midway through the first quarter.
After a 17-play, seven-minute drive to open the game, La Serna set up for a 31-yard field-goal try. Huth blocked the attempt and Johnson scooped up the ball, taking it 60 yards for the first touchdown of the game.
“The defense was out there forever,” Podley said. “The whole game was a real ugly game. We stayed in it.”
La Serna tied the score at the end of the second quarter. Andrew Rosales caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Andrew Buenrostro with 1:09 to play in the first half.
On the ensuing drive, Bonita went three and out and punted the ball to La Serna with 50 seconds to play.
La Serna drove 38 yards and set up for another field goal try, this time from 32 yards out. Huth blocked the field-goal attempt again and kept the score tied, 7-7, at halftime.
Bonita took a 14-7 lead in the third quarter on a 13-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Garrett Pendleton to Garrett Horine.
Huth and Johnnson teamed up again on defense later in the quarter to stall a La Serna drive and force a turnover. Huth sacked Buenrostro on a second-and-9 play from the 37-yard line. Huth also forced a fumble and Johnson recovered the ball on the 41-yard line.
Bonita had to punt the ball away three plays later, but the seven-point lead was secure entering the fourth quarter.
La Serna came up with a couple of big plays on defense in the fourth quarter to close the gap. La Serna pinned Bonita inside its own 10-yard line early in the fourth quarter. On first down from its own 9-yard line, Pendleton was chased into his own end zone and tried to throw the ball away to avoid a sack.
The officials ruled that he threw to an area with no receivers and awarded La Serna a safety for intentional grounding in the end zone.
La Serna trailed 14-9 after the safety and took control of the ball on 45-yard after the free kick.
But two plays later, Bonita’s Nick Berghoudian recovered a fumble and his team took over on its own 40-yard line. Berghoudian came up with another turnover later in the fourth quarter, intercepting a pass and returning it to the 1-yard line.
Johnson scored his second touchdown of the game on a 1-yard plunge to give his team a 21-9 lead.
But La Serna had one last gasp. Linebacker Craig Jones recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown that cut the lead to five points with 2:26 to play in the game.
La Serna tried an onside kick after the touchdown, but Bonita recovered and ran out the clock.
Johnson rushed for 40 yards on 10 carries and scored two touchdowns.
Rosales caught five passes for 87 yards and a touchdown.
Bonita will play West Covina, 28-19 winners over Mayfair on Friday night, in the championship game of the Southeast Division playoffs.
It is the first time Bonita has made the championship game since 1999.