SAN MATEO For not having a single offensive snap in the first quarter, Serra had no gripes about how the game ultimately unfolded Saturday.
The Padres overcame a you-had-to-see-it-to-believe-it 23-play opening series by Half Moon Bay that ended with a touchdown on the first snap of the second quarter to win 42-14 in the opening round of the Central Coast Section Division I playoffs.
Serra, the top seed, advances to play host to fifth-seeded Wilcox in the semifinals next Saturday afternoon.
Half Moon Bay’s season ends at 10-1.
Terence Loville caught four passes for 117 yards and a touchdown for Serra. He also grabbed an interception that set up a touchdown.
“He’s an amazing player,” said Serra coach Patrick Walsh, whose team improved to 10-1. “I said it last week. When the chips are down, the chips are on the line, we’re going to throw the ball to No. 1 and hope for the best. With a young quarterback who is trying to figure things out on his own, it’s nice to have that security blanket out there — No. 1.”
Serra’s sophomore quarterback, Dominique Lampkin, who was making his third start in place of injured Daylin McLemore, accounted for three touchdowns.
He had two through the air and a rushing TD that began the string of 42 unanswered points.
Down 14-0, Serra scored just before halftime, with help from Lampkin’s 57-yard toss to Loville that moved the ball to the 13.
Lampkin’s 9-yard run with 32.9 seconds left in the half cut the deficit to a touchdown.
“Massive,” Walsh said of that score. “It was 14-0 and they were three yards, four yards, six yards. That sort of thing is demoralizing. But the good thing was it wasn’t 60 yards, 60 yards and the next thing you know it’s 42-0 at halftime. It was painful, but it was manageable in the sense that they only scored 14 points.”
Until that deep pass to Loville, the visiting team had all the momentum.
The game-opening drive began at the Half Moon Bay 20. It included three third-down conversions and three fourth-down conversions. It included two pass completions — by different passers — and 21 runs.
It ended 12:04 after it began with Connor Quosig’s 3-yard touchdown run.
“That’s how you draw it up, right? Perfect,” Half Moon Bay coach Keith Holden said. “That’s exactly how we wanted it. We knew they had a ton of explosive guys We said the best defense is offense, keep them off the field. I didn’t know it was going to happen, but that was like the perfect drive for us.”
Serra went three-and-out on its first series and Half Moon Bay went back on the march.
This time, the Cougars needed nine plays — and a couple of Serra penalties — to cover 65 yards for another touchdown. Quosig again provided the points, charging around the left side and diving just inside the pylon for a 14-0 advantage with 4:44 left before halftime.
At that point, Half Moon Bay had the ball for an astonishing 17:16 to Serra’s 2:04.
With the orange-clad fans in full-throttle on the visitor’s side, Half Moon Bay’s defense was in position for another stop. It had the Padres looking at second-and-17 from their own 30 when the momentum changed direction.
Lampkin unloaded a pass and Loville caught it.
“That was a double post,” Holden said. “We worked on it all week. It’s just No. 1 has a little more athleticism than our scout team.”
With his team trailing 14-7 at halftime, Walsh set the tone for the second half in the locker room.
“I basically told them the team that was on the field in the first half, we’re not going out like that,” Walsh said. “We can lose our season and that’ll be fine and it happens in life. But we’re not going out like that, which was being manhandled running power. Basically just saying, ‘We’re going to physically dominate you as a defense.’
“I don’t really have a lot of defenses to stop getting our butts kicked. We just kind of tweaked our mentality a little bit.”
Loville’s 24-yard touchdown reception from Lampkin 2 1/2 minutes into the third quarter tied the score 14-14.
A fake punt — Damon Lewis connected with Christian Pedersen — set up Nate Sanzhez’s 2-yard run for a 21-14 advantage.
Loville then stepped in front of a pass near the sideline for an interception that he returned 23 yards to the 9.
Hassan “The Missil3” Mahasin scored two plays later.
Sanchez’s 52-yard pick-six made it 35-14 and Mahasin’s 36-yard catch-and-run ended the scoring.
“We got really tired in the second half,” Half Moon Bay running back/linebacker Tristan Hofmann said. “It kind of took a toll. We were all playing both ways. It was hard.”
But Half Moon Bay will always have that opening drive.
“That first quarter shocked everyone here,” Hofmann added.
Walsh had nothing but praise for the small-school power — moved up to Division I because of the section’s new competitive-equity playoff format — after the outcome.
He said he’d never seen a game-opening drive quite like Half Moon Bay’s.
“It’s a testament to coach Holden and their belief structure,” Walsh said. “How they felt about this game was we may not be whatever people think we are. But we’re not soft and we’re tough and we’re going to send a message and they did that.
“What I think about coach Holden’s team and his community is what I want people to say about ours, which is tough, organized, committed, strong community, strong belief system, great coaching. I’ve got nothing but the utmost respect for not only coach Holden but the effort that those kids bring to this game.”