Carmel Valley, Calif. - At halftime, things looked bleak for Desert Ridge.
The season opening football game against Gardena Serra, the No. 2-ranked team in the country (according to MaxPreps.com), was going badly.
Without starting quarterback Tarek Morrison (injury), the Jaguars (0-1) bounced back to outscore Serra in the second half, but fell short in a 28-22 loss on Saturday in the Brothers In Arms Classic at Cathedral Catholic High.
“We saw that they were tired at halftime and our little guys just kept playing hard,’’ Desert Ridge coach Jeremy Hathcock said. “We can’t come out any worse and still be in the game at the end. We’re normally a physical team, but they overwhelmed us with their speed.
“The coaches I talked to about Serra said to be happy with little gains.’’
Serra quarterback Jalen Greene had four touchdown passes in the first half to put Desert Ridge in a hole.
Serra opened the game on a runaway train, building a 21-0 lead just 45 seconds into the second quarter.
After having a touchdown nullified by a celebration penalty on its first play from scrimmage, Serra scored four plays later on Green’s four-yard TD pass to Gregory Webb.
Greene did it again, needing two plays to push the lead to 14-0 on a 41-yard touchdown pass to highly recruited Adoree Jackson with 3:45 left in the opening quarter.
Serra then turned an interception by Glen Ihenacho into a third touchdown.
Greene capped the quick drive on the fourth play with a 33-yard TD pass to Jordan Lasley in the corner of the end zone with 11:15 left before halftime.
Seemingly on the verge of turning the game into rout at that point, Serra stalled a Desert Ridge drive that started at the Jaguars’ 35 and reached the one-inch line.
A fourth-down run was stopped just short, and the Jaguars turned it over to Serra.
But Greene fumbled the snap and Amonai Itaaehau recovered it in the end zone with 1:05 left before halftime.
That sliced the deficit to 21-6 after the extra point try was blocked.
Greene answered back with his fourth touchdown of the first half, hitting Jackson again, this time for 33 yards with 18 seconds remaining before intermission to restore some order.
Desert Ridge began its push with Landon Whitlow’s 29-yard field in the third quarter.
Down 28-9 at that point, the Jags got a 7-yard run from Danny Siamau for a touchdown with 11:55 to play to get closer at 28-16.
“The second half was real humbling,’’ Greene said. “We can’t rely on the defense all night long like this.’’
Desert Ridge threatened again, but Siamau fumbled from the Serra 1-yard line, only to have offensive lineman Austin King pounce on it in the end zone for another score.
But that was as close as the Jags could get.
“I hate to be excited about a loss,’’ said Hathcock. “But we had a chance until a panicked at the end. Compared to halftime when it looked bad, I feel good about us.’’
Gardena (Calif.) Serra 28, Desert Ridge 22
Desert Ridge 14 14 0 0 -- 28
Serra 0 6 3 13 -- 22
S -- Webb 4 pass from Greene (Maama kick)
S -- Jackson 41 pass from Greene (Maama kick)
S -- Lasley 33 pass from Greene (Maama kick)
DR -- Itaaehau recovered fumble in end zone (kick failed)
S -- Jackson 33 pass from Greene (Maama kick)
DR -- Whitlow FG 29
DR -- Siamau 7 run (Whitlow kick)
DR -- King recovered fumble in end zone (kick failed)
First Downs: DR 10, S 11
Rushing: DR 52-151, S 34-16
Passing (Comp-Att.-Yds-TD-INT) DR 4-7-46-0-1, S 7-10-180-4-0
Fumbles-lost: DR 2-0, S 3-3
Penalties-yards: DR 8-78, S 5-46