It was supposed to be the other way around. It was supposed to be the Edison defense forcing the turnovers and coming up with the big play.
But on a crisp night in the 16th week of the season, the magic of Edison's defense ran out, and so did the clock on the Chargers' season.
Jalen Greene ran for one touchdown and passed for another to lift Gardena Serra past Edison, 27-10, in the Southern Regional of the State Division II Bowl Championships.
Serra (13-2) will play in the Division II Bowl next week at Home Depot Center against Oakdale, a 27-20 winner over Concord Clayton Valley in the North regional. Game time is Saturday, 4 p.m. Oakdale is 14-1.
Edison (13-2) has to be content with winning the Southwest Division championship, its first title since 1985.
The Chargers, who reached the playoffs by winning the Sunset League title and were the last remaining team from Orange County still playing, committed three turnovers in the second half which negated a stellar first half.
The Edison defense still gave a good account of itself against a quicker opponent. Despite allowing a season-high in points, seven of Serra's points came on an interception return, and twice Serra was inside the 3-yard line and had to kick a field goal.
The only other team to score more than 16 points against the Chargers was in their only other loss, 20-14, to Pac-5 finalist Mater Dei.
"We battled hard, the one thing we didn’t want to do, we did," Edison coach Dave White said of the turnoves. "We did what we wanted to do in the first half, we controlled the clock—couldn’t ask for a better first half. “The second half was totally opposite. Give credit to them, they caused us a lot of problems.”
In the final game of White's 27th season as head coach, Edison seized control early in the contest and looked like it was going to beat the slightly favored Cavaliers. The Chargers controlled the ball for nearly 19 minutes in the first half and scored on its first possession.
Despite a fumble on its first play, Edison drove 76 yards with Aleksander Torgersen making big plays—passing 32 yards to Trevor Borkowski, and running a few times to pick up first downs.
The Chargers missed a good opportunity on their second drive. They had first down at the Serra 5-yard line, but had to settle for 27-yard field goal by Hunter Kelley for a 10-0 lead with 7 minutes 34 seconds left in the half.
Little did Edison and its large crowd at Orange Coast College know that was the last hurrah for the offense—and it was about to get rough on the defense, which had five shutouts this season and nine games in which opponents scored fewer than 10 points.
This was not one of them. Malik Roberson's 32-yard run stung the Chargers and set up Green's 7-yard scoring pas to Gregory Webb as Serra cut its deficit to 10-7 with 5:48 left.
On the opening drive of the second half, Serra's Green asserted himself, breaking off runs of 34, 14 and 4 yards, the latter a touchdown for a 14-10 lead with 8:44 remaining in the third quarter.
A fumble gave Serra possession at the Edison 40 and, after the switch for the fourth quarter, on fourth-and-goal from the 2 Serra's Ryan Dobson kicks a 20-yard field goal for a 17-10 lead.
Seventeen seconds later, Serra sticks a shiv in the Chargers' hopes of winning. Malachi Mageo intercepts a pass by Torgersen and returns it 41 yards for a 24-10 lead.
Edison, after a three-and-out, gave up a 49-yard punt return to Roberson, giving Serra possession at the Edison 14. The Chargers' defense again held, and Dobson kicked a 21-yard field goal for a 27-10 lead with 7:01 left.
Another interception—and 59-yard return by Adoree Jackson—with 2:12 remaining gave Serra possession at the Edison 37. The Cavaliers drove to the 1 before running out the clock.
Serra, a private school that won the Western Division championship, is going to the State Bowl for the third tie; the Cavaliers won in 2009.
Bowl Championship games at Home Depot Center, Dec. 14-15:
- Open: Concord De La Salle vs. Corona Centennial, Saturday, 8 p.m.
- Division I: Granite Bay vs. Long Beach Poly, Friday, 8 p.m.
- Division II: Gardena Serra vs. Oakdale, Saturday, 4 p.m.
- Division III: San Diego Madison vs. Kentfield Marin Catholic, Saturday, noon
- Division IV: Modesto Central Catholic vs. Solana Beach Santa Fe Christian, Friday, 4 p.m.