Big second half lifts La Serna football past Culver City to reach Division 4 title game


CULVER CITY – A second half surge propelled La Serna High into another CIF-Southern Section championship game as the Lancers pulled away from Culver City 52-31 on Friday night in the Division 4 football semifinals.

La Serna (10-3) will face Corona del Mar next week at its home field at California High School either Friday or Saturday. Corona del Mar defeated Yorba Linda 28-14 in the other semifinal.

This is La Serna’s second trip to a CIF championship game in the past four full seasons. La Serna lost a heartbreaker 42-41 to Pacifica in 2019 in Division 6.

La Serna’s second half scoring blitz was led by its usually potent rushing attack. Owen Long ran for 155 yards on 13 carries. He also added two touchdowns in the second half. Adrian Castro barreled for 89 yards rushing on 13 carries. He also scored two touchdowns.

Quarterback CJ Ceron only threw the ball 10 times. He completed five passes for 113 yards and two long touchdowns.

La Serna led 21-17 at halftime but outscored Culver City 31-14 in the second half. The Lancers put all the pressure on Culver City quickly in the third quarter. La Serna started the half with some trickery on the kickoff. Jayden Northrup received the kick and faked a handoff to Kaimana Tufaga. Northrup hid the ball and slowly ran toward the left side, fooling the Centaurs. He then ran 51 yards which set up a first down for La Serna at the Culver City 44. La Serna scored seven plays later to take a 28-17 lead when Ceron kept the ball on a 9-yard touchdown run.

The Lancers’ defense came up big on the next series. Aiden Flores intercepted a Sammy Silvia pass at the Culver City 5 and returned it to the 1-yard line. Long then plunged into the end zone to give La Serna a 35-17 lead with 7:54 left in the third.

Culver City cut the La Serna lead to 38-24 early in the fourth quarter but La Serna answered on its next series when Castro rumbled into the end zone from 1 yard out to put La Serna up 45-24 with 8:42 remaining in the game. His touchdown was set up by a 52-yard run from Long.

Long scored his second touchdown with 1:47 left in the game when he ran 9 yards to put La Serna up 52-31.

The Centaurs were led by Silvia who completed 24 of 47 passes for 403 yards. He threw four touchdowns but was also intercepted twice. Culver City receiver Myles Singleton caught 9 passes for 165 yards and one touchdown.

Culver City jumped out on top of La Serna to start the game. The Centaurs wasted little time marching down the field thanks to their formidable passing attack led by Silvia. Culver City needed only 2:59 to march 76 yards in 10 plays to grab a 7-0 lead when Silvia found Gianni Haynes for a 9-yard touchdown pass. Haynes was wide open in the middle of the field and practically walked into the end zone from just a few yards out.

La Serna tied it at 7 about three minutes later when Adrian Castro took a handoff and rumbled for a  17-yard touchdown on the left side.

The Lancers looked poised to take the lead later in the first quarter but Owen Long fumbled at the 19 with Pierce Reynoso recovering. Culver City then found the end zone on the very  next play when Silvia hit a wide open Haynes over the middle for an 81-yard touchdown that gave the Centaurs a 14-7 lead.

La Serna tied it 14-14 with 10:36 to go in the second quarter thanks to an efficient 6-play, 65-yard drive. It was capped when Ceron, who was under heavy pressure, found Jayden Northrup open on the left sideline for a 24-yard touchdown pass.

[related_articles location=”left” show_article_date=”false” article_type=”automatic-primary-section”]After Culver City’s Henry Brownlow hit a 38-yard field goal in the middle of the quarter, the Lancers took their first lead. Ceron dropped back and faced pressure again from Culver City. He somehow found Jackson De Lange on the left sideline. De Lange made one defender miss a tackle then found daylight on along the left sideline as he cruised to a 63-yard touchdown that gave La Serna a 21-17 lead.

Culver City has one last chance before halftime to score. The Centaurs moved the ball down to the La Serna 10 with just five seconds left. Culver City called timeout and send Brownlow out to try the 27-yard field goal from the right hashmark. However, Brownlow’s kick was wide.

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