SANTA ANA -- Down two touchdowns late in the third quarter, the Corona Centennial football team finally started playing its brand of football.
The runners ran, the blockers blocked and the defense shut down Mater Dei, adding up to a 28-20 come-from behind victory Friday night at Santa Ana Stadium.
“We’ve been in tough spots before,” said Centennial defensive tackle Milo Jordan. “We have a lot of veterans coming back. We know how to respond.”
The Huskies (1-1) were coming off a season-opening loss to St. Bonaventure last week. Centennial coach Matt Logan practiced harder than usual during the week, not happy with the dozen penalties the Huskies committed against St. Bonaventure, including seven false starts by the offensive line.
The Huskies seemed to have some carryover with their lack of discipline in the first quarter, committing six penalties, but then hunkered down and were flagged just twice more the rest of the game.
“That’s how you do it,” Jordan said. “You bounce back from losses, work harder, persevere and work through it.”
Trailing, 20-7, midway through the third quarter, the Huskies finally came alive and cut the deficit to six on a 12-yard touchdown run by Romello Goodman with 1:51 remaining in the third quarter.
The Monarchs (0-2) were not as effective running the ball as they were in the first half. Senior running back Aaron Hawkins left the game in the third quarter with an apparent knee injury and did not return, while starter Freddie Mora bogged down from playing on both sides of the ball.
Mater Dei also had several bad snaps from center, one of which the Huskies recovered at midfield with 10:18 left. Centennial needed just two plays to get into the end zone, as quarterback Hayden Gavett scrambled 38 yards and then ran eight yards for a touchdown. The point-after gave the Huskies their first lead, 21-20.
“We realized what the defense was giving us and the O-line stepped it up,” Gavett said. “It just opened up the game.”
Gavett wasn’t through, as he tacked on a nine-yard touchdown run with 3:30 remaining to give the Huskies some breathing room.
Gavett, making his second varsity start, finished with 164 yards rushing in 14 carries and threw for 119 yards.
Mater Dei had one last chance for a possible tie, marching inside the 15-yard line with under a minute to play, but Allen Avelar intercepted quarterback Ryan McMahon on fourth and 10 with 16 seconds remaining.