UPLAND -- Inland Empire teams probably wouldn’t mind playing the Serra League a little more often.
Upland scored the latest upset against the vaunted private-school league to the north, scoring three consecutive touchdowns after falling behind early Friday night against Loyola and cruising to a 38-23 victory at Upland High.
Vista Murrieta also toppled higher-ranked Crespi on Friday night, two weeks after J.W. North stunned Alemany.
“I think we were resting on our laurels from last week,” said Loyola coach Mike Christensen, referring to his team's 28-14 victory against St. John Bosco. “Maybe they read too many newspapers.”
Upland (5-0) still had a bitter taste in its mouth from last season’s loss to the Cubs (4-1), when the Highlanders were soundly defeated, 30-13, in their final tuneup before nonleague play. Upland coach Tim Salter said the difference this time was his team's work in the trenches.
“We felt last year when we lost the game we didn’t control the line of scrimmage, and I really felt tonight we did,” he said. “They knew we were going to run the power and we ran it anyhow, even late in the game.”
The Highlanders also came up with a big momentum-changing passing play in their rematch with the Cubs, something they were unable to do last season.
Trailing by three points early in the second quarter, Upland wide receiver Kenny Lawler made a brilliant 40-yard reception that set up a two-yard touchdown run by Donta Abron and the Highlanders never trailed again.
“That really gave us some momentum,” Salter said.
Abron finished with 187 rushing yards in 24 carries and scored four touchdowns, including an 80-yard run that gave Upland a 38-17 lead with 2:51 left in the third quarter.
Now the Highlanders have a week off before playing Etiwanda on Oct. 14 at Colony High and then a key matchup the following week against Rancho Cucamonga, ranked No. 13 in the Southland.
Loyola, meanwhile, plays Valencia next week in its final nonleague tuneup. The Cubs could be without wide receiver/defensive back Chaz Anderson, who left in the third quarter because of a right knee injury and struggled to put weight on the leg while standing on the sideline. Anderson has committed to Boise State.