GARDENA -- As it turns out, stories about Serra's demise have been greatly exaggerated.
Yes, the Cavaliers graduated a boatload of talent and are still greener than broccoli, but there they were Friday night, storming the field after another Mission League championship win.
Young and inexperienced Serra held on to beat Chaminade, 35-29, in a thrilling game that featured five lead changes. A group of Cavaliers tried to douse coach Scott Altenberg with icy water but couldn't, proving how ripe they really are.
"That's our team in a nutshell," Altenberg said. "They tried to dump me with water, they tripped and dumped it on themselves."
It could have been easy for Serra (8-2, 5-0) to make excuses given the lack of star power. This team doesn't have the lucrative names like in years past. No Robert Woods, no Marqise Lee or George Farmer.
None of that mattered.
Ronnie Vaughn rushed for 221 yards and two touchdowns, and sophomore quarterback Jalen Greene had 217 total yards plus the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter to carry the Cavaliers. Chaminade (8-2, 4-1), ranked No. 15 in the ESPN Los Angeles Top 25, had the ball with 1:18 remaining and 90 yards to go but couldn't generate magic. Logan Scott's last-second heave from the Serra 37 sailed wide of the end zone, and Serra players stormed the field.
"A lot of things were going through my head," Greene said. "I was nervous and I didn't even want to watch the play, but I was just hoping, 'Please don't catch this ball, please pick it, just let us get this W tonight.' "
Vaughn's 23-yard touchdown run had given No. 25-ranked Serra a comfortable 35-22 advantage with 5:57 left. Less than 40 seconds later, Scott responded with a clutch 76-yard scoring pass to Kevin Lewallyn, cutting the deficit to 35-29. Chaminade caught Serra napping and recovered the ensuing onside kick but couldn't capitalize, turning the ball over on downs.
The Eagles had taken a brief lead on Terrell Newby’s 47-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter.
The Cavaliers were without leading rusher Anterio Bateman, who was on crutches and had his left ankle in a cast. His absence didn’t appear to affect the running game -- Greene, Vaughn and Malik Roberson combined for 224 rushing in the first half alone. Greene finished with 140 rushing yards in 13 carries.
"I just did what I had to do," Vaughn said. "I had to lead my team to victory. Anterio is a big part of this team and we would love to have him back but with his absence I had to pick up in his footsteps."
Vaughn’s one-yard touchdown on a gutsy fourth-and-goal call midway through the second quarter handed Serra a 13-8 lead. The Cavaliers got the ball back on an interception by UCLA-bound Raymond Ford, and then Greene broke a 60-yarder before Roberson followed with a scoring run of 15 yards.
Greene broke the scoreless tie with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Adorre Jackson late in the first quarter, but Serra missed the extra-point attempt. Chaminade answered back on its next possession as Newby punched it in from four yards out. Newby ran for 145 yards -- 115 in the second half -- and three touchdowns.
The inefficiency of Newby (13 carries, 30 yards) and Scott (four of nine for 23 yards) in the first half had Chaminade facing a 12-point deficit at the break -- its largest since Oct. 7 against Sherman Oaks Notre Dame.
Serra drove deep into Chaminade territory on its first possession but a bad snap got away from Greene and the Eagles recovered. It was the first of Serra’s seven first-half fumbles, two of which were lost.
"We're so young and inexperienced," Altenberg said. "It took us 10 times to win this game."