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Serra players rejoiced and celebrated in the moment that just unfolded.
After 15 months away from its last game, which was the 2019 state championship, the Serra Padres’ season – like everyone else in California – was in limbo. The season was pushed back to the spring and then delayed again, leaving the question on whether or not a season would ever commence for the 2020-21 academic year.
One ended up happening, and the Serra Padres (1-0) – the No. 2 team in the Bay Area – returned to the gridiron and won their first game back in a 33-26 road victory over the No. 4 Valley Christian Warriors (0-1) in a battle of some of the Bay Area’s premier programs.
“When I say there were no words for that, there’s no words for that win right there,” said Serra senior tight end Christian Pedersen. “That was probably the most fun football game I’ve ever played in my life. Hats off to Valley Christian. They’ve got a hell of a program with coach (Mike) Machado. Those guys fight their butts off until the last whistle, but it felt so surreal out there.”
It was Serra’s defense who made some of the most critical plays.
The Padres forced three turnovers, with 13 points coming off those turnovers – the ultimate determinant in the final outcome, as they won by just seven points. And they started off the festivities right from the jump.
Ezekiel Tai recovered a Valley Christian fumble on the opening possession, and Serra capitalized on the following play, as junior quarterback Dominique Lampkin connected with junior athlete Hassan Mahasin for a 23-yard score to make it a 6-0 ballgame with 8:49 remaining in the opening quarter.
Kai Lim later intercepted a pass, eventually leading to a 22-yard touchdown pass from Lampkin to sophomore Joey Villaroman, which extended Serra’s advantage to 26-10 with 50.6 seconds left in the third to provide just enough of a cushion down the stretch.
The last turnover came on Valley Christian’s final possession on a fumble when it was driving down the field after an onside kick recovery.
“They helped us a lot,” Mahasin said. “Got the momentum going and gave the offense confidence to go out there and score.”
But Valley Christian, despite suffering the seven-point home loss, would not go down easy.
Serra’s first touchdown was answered with a 12-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Jakson Berman to sophomore receiver Jurrion Dickey to put Valley Christian ahead 7-6.
While Serra would continue scoring, watching its lead grow to as large as 16 at one point and then 33-18 on a Petelo Richards-Gi touchdown scamper with 1:35 left, the Warriors nearly sent this one into overtime on some late game heroics.
Berman found Dickey on a 60-yard strike, followed by a two-point conversion, one play later to cut the Serra lead to 33-26. Then, Valley Christian recovered an onside kick when Serra was called for a penalty on the first attempt before Serra forced a fumble to seal the win.
“We’ve been working,” Villaroman said. “No one would ever miss practice. Since summer last year, our coach (offensive coordinator) (Darius) Bell kept us accountable, and we just kept fighting for the season.”
Lampkin – with two Division I offers from Fresno State and Illinois State – showed why he’s a Division I prospect, completing 15 of 23 passes for 224 yards and four touchdowns, coming one season after he threw for 750 yards and ran for 448 yards when replacing current Arizona State quarterback Daylin McLemore. Lampkin also carried the ball 11 times for 79 yards.
“Dom grew a lot,” Mahasin said. “We’ve been working ever since last season ended, working on timing, throws, plays, all that. It showed today.”
Mahasin was the star of the show, bringing in seven receptions for 115 yards and two scores. His second touchdown was on a touch pass, going 60 yards and putting Serra ahead 12-7 with 9:01 remaining in the first half.
Arizona State, Boise State, Colorado, Colorado State, Florida Atlantic, New Mexico, San Diego State, San Jose State and Utah State have all offered Mahasin.
“Missile went crazy as usual,” Pedersen said. “He did his thing. Just another day in the office for that guy. That guy is going to do big things at the next level and not only here. Don’t have enough good words to say about him.”
Villaroman, in his first varsity contest, caught four passes for 58 yards and a touchdown.
Pedersen – a Louisville signee – had three catches for 49 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown snag, as he tipped the ball and found just enough space for the reception to extend Serra’s lead to 19-10 going into the locker room.
“I knew before the play, I was like, ‘Alright, I’m catching it. I’m catching it,’” Pedersen said. “And, in my head, I was like, ‘That’s mine. That’s mine. That’s mine.’ And the whole time I’m thinkin, because they’re a run-heavy team, two possessions, huge on them because the clock. That’s exactly what we want. That’s exactly what we got. And that’s exactly what we wanted. I’m just so happy.”
Richards-Gi finished with 67 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.
Whenever Dickey – a consensus four-star prospect with seven Division I offers – touched the ball, big things happened in a day when he totaled 101 receiving yards and a touchdown on five catches. Senior Charlie Kinne – a transfer from Los Altos – was Valley Christian’s No. 2 receiver by catching two completions for 35 yards.
Berman ended with a 9-of-17 line for Valley Christian, tossing for 164 yards and two touchdowns. He also extended a slew of plays and notched 83 yards and a score on 14 carries.
Valley Christian will look for its first win at 7 p.m. March 26 versus Mitty. Serra plays host to Sacred Heart Cathedral at 2 p.m. March 27.
Passing: Dominique Lampkin – 15-23, 224 yards, 4 TD.
Rushing: Dominique Lampkin – 11 carries, 79 yards. Petelo Richards-Gi – 10 carries, 67 yards, TD. Jackson Mann – 2 carries, 6 yards.
Receiving: Hassan Mahasin – 7 catches, 115 yards, 2 TD. Joey Villaroman – 4 catches, 58 yards, TD. Christian Pedersen – 3 catches, 49 yards, TD. Petelo Richards-Gi – 3 catches, 14 yards.
Passing: Jakson Berman – 9-17, 164 yards, 2 TD.
Rushing: Jakson Berman – 14 carries, 83 yards, TD. Elijah McLemore – 10 carries, 34 yards. Chase Laubach – 5 carries, 24 yards. Andrew Beldi – 5 carries, 16 yards. Elijah Garcia – 2 carries, 7 yards.
Receiving: Jurrion Dickey – 5 catches, 101 yards, 2 TD. Charlie Kinne – 2 catches, 35 yards. Andrew Beldi – 1 catch, 18 yards. Andi Etok – 1 catch, 10 yards.
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