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WESTLAKE VILLAGE — From the onset of the game between Serra and Oaks Christian on Friday night, Serra’s rushing attack was pounding the ball continuously.
Spearheaded by Cincere Rhaney and Kai Honda, the ground game was punishing in the first half, but neither back could break through for a score. It was a different story in the second half, as both found the end zone to propel the Cavaliers to a 20-14 win over the Lions.
“We were driving the field all first half but we couldn’t punch it in,” Honda said. “We had turnovers, I had a fumble, our quarterback had a pick. We got into the locker room, said we can’t have those missed plays, we need to get in the end zone, and we finally figured it out.”
“We kept talking to each other, ‘Keep running hard, keep running hard,’ ” Rhaney said. “We didn’t get discouraged. We weren’t finishing drives in the first half. Second half we did what we were supposed to do.”
Rhaney carried the ball 26 times for 211 yards and a touchdown, adding 19 yards on two receptions. Honda handled 18 rushing attempts for 69 yards and a score, plus 25 yards receiving.
Oaks Christian’s defense did a good job holding Serra’s quarterback Jimmy Butler in check, limiting him 131 passing yards and intercepting him twice, but the rushing attack was too much to handle for the Lions.
“They know we’re going to run and we’re still able to do it,” said Serra head coach Scott Altenberg. “I got a two-headed monster and they’re both really playing for each other. They want to do it together, it’s really exciting.”
The Lions were able to hold the Cavaliers to just six first-half points thanks to a strong defensive effort. Oaks Christian forced a fumble and picked off Butler, giving the offense opportunities to score.
Jalen Lewis, who recovered the fumble, also scored the first touchdown for Oaks Christian on a 24-yard touchdown from Nate Bennett on the ensuing possession after the turnover.
After an interception by Matt Erhart, the Lions scored on an 84-yard pass from Bennett to Justice Williams, who used his speed down the right sideline to find the end zone.
It was little mistakes on the offensive end, including numerous false start penalties, that hindered the Lions from putting together long offensive drives in the second half.
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“We can’t be going offsides. We can’t have those penalties,” Erhart said. “We have to work on discipline. We fought hard, but we shot ourselves in the foot.”
Erhart recorded 10 tackles and an interception to lead the defense. Freshman Devon Benjamin also had a pick.
Bennett finished the contest with 144 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Johnny Thompson added 101 yards on 14 carries and Deshonne Redeaux carried the ball seven times for 52 yards.
Oaks Christian will look to rebound next week at home against Loyola. Serra will try to string together four consecutive wins with the start of league competition against Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks.