Mater Dei defense steps up to shut out Long Beach Poly in CIFSS Pac-Five Division semifinal. Mater Dei will take on state No. 2 St. John Bosco of Bellflower in next Saturday night’s Pac-Five title game with a CIF regional bowl game berth on the line.
RELATED: Week 14 Top 25 Scoreboard
Friday night’s CIF Southern Section Pac-Five Division semifinal between state No. 5 Long Beach Poly and No. 6 Mater Dei of Santa Ana figured to be a defensive battle between two battled-tested programs that have engaged in some great playoff battles over the past 15 plus years.
Long Beach Poly received much attention for its relentless defense coming in, but it was Mater Dei’s defense that titled the field and made the big plays in a 30-0 victory over the Jackrabbits. With the win, Mater Dei advances to the CIFSS Pac-Five Division final for the second consecutive season. Last year, Mater Dei lost to Long Beach Poly in the final, but this year it will face Trinity League rival and state No. 2 St. John Bosco.
St. John Bosco advanced to the final via a 56-14 victory over No. 7 Alemany of Mission Hills. In league play, Bosco defeated Mater Dei 24-2.
“I was a bit shocked we controlled the line of scrimmage because they (Poly) have a great defense,” said tight end London Iakopo, who gave Mater Dei (11-2) a 13-0 lead with 6:17 remaining in the second period when he scored on a 23-yard reception from QB Chase Forrest (8-10, 153 yards, 3 TDs).
The first quarter was a standstill, but Mater Dei put 20 points on the board in the second period to take control of the game. Mater Dei RB Justin Allen went 75 yards for a score with 9:50 on the clock. Allen broke into the clear after two missed tackles, including one by All-American candidate John “JuJu” Smith.
Iakopo, who helped Mater Dei’s defensive line control the game up front while allowing Poly little time to pass downfield, then hauled in his touchdown reception. Poly was looking to get on the board before halftime and win the line of scrimmage in the second half, but when sophomore Jack Jones muffed a punt return Mater Dei took over at Poly’s 20-yard line. The Monarchs then took the sails out of the Jackrabbits’ defense by scoring on a four-yard touchdown reception by Ben Humphreys with five seconds remaining in the first half.
Poly (11-2) couldn’t recover from that sequence in the second half.
Washington commit Jonathan Lockett put Mater Dei up 27-0 when he took a pass from Forrest 90 yards for a touchdown with 1:20 remaining in the third period. Lockett also added an interception on defense that he took out of the end zone with just under 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. The Monarchs added a late 24-yard field goal to round out the scoring.
“I was not surprised we controlled the line of scrimmage because we’ve been doing that the past three weeks,” said Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson. “I had that as my No. 2 key to victory and I think we did. My No. 1 key was defense. We had to play together and play violently.
“We got to figure out a way to score against St. John Bosco. We have to learn from the last game and be very emotional. Having the experience of last year’s title game and playing in the big stadium is a plus.
Allen, who didn’t play in Mater Dei’s 24-2 loss to St. John Bosco, finished with an even 100 yards rushing. Mater Dei’s defense held Smith to three receptions for a paltry nine yards.