MISSION HILLS -- It took less than a minute for the Alemany football team to take control of its Serra League regular-season finale against Bishop Amat at Alemany High School on Friday night.
Alemany, the No. 6 team in the ESPNLA.com rankings, scored two touchdowns in the final minute of the first half and ended its regular season with a 38-30 win over Bishop Amat, the fifth-ranked team by ESPNLA.com.
Alemany finished the regular season with a perfect 10-0 record and won the Serra League championship. Bishop Amat (9-1, 4-1 in Serra League) lost for the first time this season.
The game was decided in the final minute of the first half. Down 17-14, Alemany scored two touchdowns and went up 28-17 at halftime. Alemany quarterback Vernon Adams orchestrated two quick-scoring drives and the special teams executed an unconventional, yet successful onside kick.
“We got the breaks and came up with some big catches,” Alemany coach Dean Herrington said.
Adams capped a 79-yard scoring drive with a 24-yard touchdown pass to Steven Mitchell with 17 seconds left to play in the first half. The touchdown gave Alemany a 21-17 lead.
Not satisfied with taking the lead just before halftime, Herrington called for an onside pooch kick. The ball ricocheted off a Bishop Amat player and landed in the middle of the field. Alemany recovered the ball and took over on the 35-yard line.
On the very next play, Adams threw a touchdown pass to Jerico Richardson to put Alemany up 28-17 with two seconds left in the half.
Alemany tried another pooch onside kick, but this time Bishop Amat gained control of the ball and went into halftime down by 11 points.
While Adams put together two head-spinning touchdown drives just before halftime, it was the Alemany defense that shined throughout the game.
Saladin McCullough, playing defensive back, scored the first touchdown of the game for Alemany on a 15-yard fumble recovery in the first quarter.
Alemany’s Deron Smith essentially ended the game with an interception in the fourth quarter that allowed his team to run out the clock.
“It’s been like that all year in the fourth quarter,” Herrington said. “When it comes down to it, they make the plays.”
Bishop Amat came up with some clutch defensive plays as well.
After McCullough’s touchdown, Bishop Amat tied the score on a 13-yard touchdown run by Jalen Moore. It was his first of four rushing touchdowns.
Bishop Amat took the lead, 9-7, on a safety. Julian Gener sacked Adams in the end zone with 3:22 to play in the first quarter.
Alemany took back the lead on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Adams to Shane Drozdowski. Adams threw three touchdown passes in the game and was 13-of-16 for 195 yards passing. He also rushed for 44 yards and scored a touchdown.
Bishop Amat went up 17-14 on a 1-yard touchdown run by Moore with 50 seconds left to play in the first half. Moore finished with 113 yards on 26 carries and caught two passes for 35 yards.
Then Alemany made its move. In less than 20 seconds, Alemany drove down the field to take the lead on Drozdowski’s touchdown catch. Fifteen seconds later, after recovering the onside kick, Alemany scored again, on the pass to Richardson.
Alemany extended its lead to 35-17 on a 13-yard touchdown run by Adams in the third quarter.
Moore scored two more touchdowns to cut the lead to 38-30, but that’s when the Alemany defense stepped up. With less than six minutes to play, Alemany stuffed Moore on a fourth-and-1 from the 38-yard line and took over on downs.
On Bishop Amat’s next drive, Smith picked off quarterback Rio Ruiz at the 42-yard line and Alemany ran out the remaining two minutes of the game.