MISSION HILLS – Alemany coach Dean Herrington had two words of advice for his junior quarterback Devon Dunn in the middle of his game-winning drive in the fourth quarter against Serra League rival Loyola.
Easier said than done on a muddy and sloppy field that was pelted by showers all afternoon.
But Dunn took his coach’s words to heart and found receiver Corey Sims with 46 seconds left to score the go-ahead touchdown. Alemany scored two touchdowns in the final minute of the game to beat Loyola, 28-14, on Friday night at Alemany High School.
The four-yard touchdown catch by Sims -- one of Herrington’s favorite two-point conversion plays that produced an all-important six points -- gave Alemany a 21-14 lead. Defensive back Steven Mitchell intercepted a pass and returned it 55 yards to ice the game and hand Loyola its first Serra League loss of the season.
Alemany (7-2), the No. 12 team in the ESPNLA.com Top 25 rankings, clinched at least a share of the Serra League championship with a perfect 3-0 record and one game left to play. Loyola (7-2), ranked No. 13 by ESPNLA, is alone in second place in the Serra League with a 2-1 record.
Down by seven points at halftime and five minutes into the fourth quarter, Loyola tied the scored, 14-14, on an 18-yard touchdown catch by Kodi Whitfield.
Alemany got the ball back with 6:35 left to play and drove 67 yards to take a seven-point lead. Dunn completed three passes for 36 yards in the drive, including the four-yard touchdown to Sims.
Alemany only needed a field goal to win the game, but Herrington was not comfortable attempting a kick on the sloppy field.
“With the mud and stuff, it’s not a given,” Herrington said.
With under a minute to play, Alemany kept driving toward the end zone. Well within field-goal range, Herrington opted to take a shot at a touchdown and try a field goal only as a last resort.
“That’s the plan, but we were still trying to score,” Herrington said. “I told [Dunn] be careful. I was a little worried. It looked like he had a defender there.”
Sims wasn’t open for very long, but he found enough space at the goal line to snag a pass from Dunn and score.
Loyola still had a chance to tie the score again. But on third-and-10 from his own 34-yard line, Loyola quarterback Nick Cotton threw an interception to Mitchell. He returned it 55 yards and put Alemany up by 14 points with 16 seconds left.
“It was a tough game,” Loyola coach Mike Christensen said. “I’m disappointed in our performance in the first half. We couldn’t make plays. We could find our rhythm in the first half."
Alemany receiver Jerico Richardson scored two touchdowns in the first half to give the Warriors a 14-7 lead at halftime. He caught a 14-yard pass from Dunn in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead. Richardson added an eight-yard touchdown catch just before halftime.
Loyola tied the score, 7-7, in the second quarter on a 38-yard touchdown run by Wyatt Bradford. It was his longest run of the game. Bradford finished with 71 yards on 16 carries.
Dunn was 15-for-20 for 147 yards passing and three touchdowns. Richardson caught four passes for 39 yards and two touchdowns. Sims caught three passes for 30 yards and the eventual game-winning touchdown.