By Tim Peterson
(El Monte) – Davon Booth rushed for 315 yards and three touchdowns to lead El Monte to a 30-18 win over visiting Serra (San Diego) in the Division 5-AA Regional State Bowl Friday night.
Booth had plenty of help in the ground game as Abel Cueva also racked up 110 yards and a touchdown rushing.
“It’s no secret what we’re going to do. We’re going to line up and run the ball right at you,” said El Monte head coach Jesse Ceniceros. “I give credit to all of them. Davon Booth is the most underrated back in Southern California. But not just credit to him but to the line as well.”
The Lions saw their lead cut to 22-18 early in the fourth quarter when Dustan Ellison scored on a four-yard run to cap a nine play, 98 yard drive for Serra. This came after Serra stopped El Monte at the two-yard line on fourth down.
El Monte then put together a march of its own to ice the game. The Lions went 12 plays on 65 yards, burning over seven minutes off the clock, to go up 30-18. Booth finished it with a three-yard run and then ran in the two-point conversion with 4:15 left.
For good measure Booth picked off Serra quarterback Timmy Zebroski on the next series. The Lions, with another big run by Booth, drove down to the Serra six-yard line where they took a knee and touched off the celebration.
The two teams traded punches early. Willie Peterson scored on a 23 yard touchdown run on Serra’s opening drive for a 6-0 lead. El Monte countered with a 20 yard TD jaunt by Booth to cap a seven-play, 60-yard march on its first possession.
The Lions blocked a Serra punt early in the second quarter to set up a two-yard touchdown run by Booth and a two-point run to make it 14-6.
Ellison broke off a 51-yard touchdown scamper on the next series but the two point attempt failed and the Conquistadors were still down 14-12.
Later in the quarter Serra marched all the way down to the El Monte one-yard line but Peterson was stuffed at the goal line by the Lions front on fourth down. However Joseph Herrera was intercepted just before halftime and the Lions took the two point lead into the break.
Cueva got loose for his biggest run of the game – a 52 yard touchdown sprint in the third quarter to give El Monte a 22-12 lead. Serra stopped El Monte at the two-yard line and then answered with that length of the field march to get within four.
The Lions then came back with the knockout punch. El Monte only threw the ball three times in the contest with Herrera completing one to Booth, while racking up 433 yards on the ground.
For Serra Ellison was the leading rusher with 168 yards on 15 carries. Peterson had 41 overall. Serra finished 11-3 on the season.
The Lions, now 15-0, will travel up north to play in the State Bowl championship.
“Yeah, I heard we’re going to Oregon,” Ceniceros said with a smile.
Well not quite but El Monte will be traveling up to Crescent City, California next weekend for the championship game.