By Tim Peterson
(Downey) – Downey built a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter but couldn’t hang on and fell to Mater Dei Catholic 22-21 Friday night in the Division 2-AA Regional State Bowl at Allen Layne Stadium.
Anthony McMillan Jr. scored on a three-yard run with 3:51 left in the game and Paulo Aranalde’s extra point gave Mater Dei a 22-21 lead. It was the Crusaders first lead of the contest and they made it stand up to get the victory.
The score was set up by 97-yard pass play from Dominic Nankil to Rollin George down to the Vikings three-yard line.
Mater Dei then recovered the ensuing onside kick but Downey came up with a fourth down stop at its own 34.
The Vikings took over with one last shot to win it at the 34 with 1:52 left. They moved the ball down to the Mater Dei 40-yard line behind the passing of Aidan Chiles but DJ Overstreet stepped in front of a Chiles pass with 13 seconds left to seal Downey’s fate.
The Vikes looked good early. They drove 68-yards on 8 plays on the first possession of the game. Chiles hit Bryant Carey with a 40-yard touchdown strike.
Downey’s defense picked off Nankil on Mater Dei’s first two series. Anthony Irons and Jordan Arias both had interceptions leading to scores. On the Vikings second possession, starting on a short field after Arias’ pick the Vikings took a 14-0 lead as Carey scored again. This time he did it on the ground taking a handoff and going 16 yards to paydirt for a two-touchdown lead with 2:50 left in the first quarter.
Downey struck quickly on the first play of the second quarter. Chiles fired a dart over the middle of the field to a streaking Ian Hernandez who danced into the endzone for a 35-yard touchdown. Three possessions, three scores and Downey was up 21-0. It was the last time they would score.
Mater Dei Catholic began to mount its comeback. First a bad snap by Downey in its own endzone on a punt attempt led to a safety for the Crusaders and made it 21-2.
Two minutes later, after a good punt return, Jerry Flo McClure hauled in a five-yard pass from Nankil and with 2:18 left in the second quarter it was 21-8 Downey. The Vikings took that lead into the half.
Late in the third quarter Mater Dei marched 50 yards on 11 plays with Anthony McMillan Jr. capping it with a one-yard run. The extra point made it 21-15.
In the fourth quarter Nankil’s big pass play to George set up the game winner.
Chiles threw for 233 yards and two touchdowns for Downey and Carey had five catches for 90 yards and a score and one rushing touchdown. Hernndez grabbed five receptions for 84 yards and a TD. All good numbers but it wasn’t enough.
Mater Dei led for only three minutes and 51 seconds but it proved to be enough for the win.
Downey has a CIF Championship to boast about in 2022 and finished the campaign with an overall record of 12-3. Mater Dei Catholic improved to 10-4 and will now play for a State title next weekend.