SANTA ANA – Max Wittek put up the numbers, but the real heroes of Mater Dei's 28-14 victory over Orange Lutheran were the guys on special teams.
Three touchdowns came after long returns that set up short drives, and Mater Dei – ranked No. 14 in the ESPNLA top 25 – ended a five-game losing streak to its Trinity League nemesis. Now, if rival Servite (6-0, 1-0) can take care of business Friday against St. John Bosco (4-2, 0-1), it will set up a game next week at Angel Stadium with a share of first place at stake.
Wittek passed for three touchdowns and ran for another as the Monarchs (5-2, 2-0) won their fifth consecutive game. Lutheran dropped to 3-4, 0-2.
“They've had our number the past few years,” said the USC-bound quarterback. “We came in very determined. Coach instilled it in us. We heard it all week. We were confident”
Wittek completed 14 of 20 passes for 178 yards with two interceptions. But he didn't have to be perfect on a night in which three scoring drives were for 47, 45 and 34 yards courtesy of Tyler Meglan, Victor Blackwell and Glen Raphael, respectively. Meglan returned the opening kickoff 47 yards, Blackwell answered Lutheran's game-tying touchdown (a 92-yard kickoff return by Will Gonzales) with a 48-yard return, and Raphael returned a punt 34 yards.
“They did a great job of getting out of our end of the field and into their end,” Wittek said.
Wittek passed eight yards, to Blackwell in the flat, for a 7-0 lead and it remained that way through the first half. Gonzales opened the second half with his game-tying return for Lutheran, but Blackwell's long return set up Wittek's sneak that made it 14-7.
Mater Dei's longest drive, 68 yards, culminated in a 21-yard pass to Sedric Hill for a 21-7 lead.
Lutheran pulled to 21-14 when Mike Markovsky scored from four yards early in the fourth quarter at the end of a 77-yard drive that included a 36-yard run by Graeme Fraser and didn't include a single completed pass. Lutheran completed only seven of 24.
Lutheran recovered the onside kick but touched the ball too early, giving possession to the Monarchs.
“On the onside kick we got lucky,” Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson said. “It hit one of their kids or it's a different ball game.”
Wittek's final score was 31-yard pass to Hill, who caught seven passes for 98 yards. Blackwell was limited to four catches for 33.
“What I like about it, if you can get away with turning the ball over four times in a Trinity League battle, your defense did something special,” Rollinson said. “Our offense made plays when they had to.”
Joseph Schmidt had 10 tackles for Mater Dei, and Richard Ortiz had seven. The defense had five sacks, and limited the Lancers to 49 yards passing and 138 rushing.