- Blair Angulo, Reporter, WeAreSC.com
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LAKEWOOD -- Alemany had the game on ice, but you couldn't tell by listening to Vernon Adams.
The Warriors' buses warmed up in the parking lot, the cold air making their fumes clearly visible from a distance. Meanwhile, Alemany's cheering section chanted, "We want Servite!" And still, Adams stayed on his teammates. He wanted their collective attention.
"It's not over," Adams yelled. "Let's go!"
He was right: Alemany's season is not over. The No. 3-seeded Warriors beat Lakewood, 42-21, Friday night to move on in the Pac-5 Division playoffs. Adams was behind it, throwing for two touchdowns and running for another. The senior quarterback finished with 206 yards on 12 for 19 passing.
"If Vernon was two inches taller, everyone in the country would want him," Alemany coach Dean Herrington said. "He's a special player. He'll be a coach one day, he's just so smart out there. He's the heart and soul of our team."
Adams made sure the Alemany faithful got their wish. The Warriors play No. 2-seeded Servite next week.
It was a difficult ending for Lakewood coach Thadd MacNeal's squad, which was doomed by Adams' Houdini-like escapes.
The greatest came during Alemany's first drive of the second half. Leading by just seven, Adams used his legs to evade tacklers and pick up a first down on a third-and-long. He avoided a sack on the very next play and found Jerico Richardson for a 24-yard touchdown. It turned out to be the game winner.
"Lakewood came out hard," Adams said. "We just came out harder."
Alemany (12-0) blocked Lakewood's first punt and Deron Smith returned it 23 yards for the quick 7-0 lead. Both Herrington and Adams said afterward that the team had practiced on blocking the game's first punt.
"We decided to take a chance and go after it," Herrington said. "Sure enough, it was a bad snap and we got it."
Lakewood (10-2) came right back, though. Quarterback Tyler Schultz connected with Darius Powe for a 66-yard touchdown that tied the score.
Adams responded on his first drive, completing five straight passes for 71 yards. He capped it with an 18-yarder to Shane Drozdowski in the end zone.
Saladin McCullough's 10-yard score gave the Warriors a 21-7 lead, but a Schultz (14 for 34, 175 yards) keeper pulled the Lancers to within seven at the half.
Alemany's defense put the clamps down after that.
"Their defensive front handled us pretty good," MacNeal said. "They took us out of our game plan offensively. We struggled."
Citing bigger and faster players on the other sideline, Herrington was surprised by the wide margin of victory. But Alemany's defense played big and fast, too. Lakewood's Rashad Wadood had rushed for 201 yards the week before, but was held to just 18 on nine carries Friday. Allie Long was limited to 17 yards.
"Our defensive line isn't the biggest, but they know how to play football," Herrington said.
The same applied to Adams.