CORSAIR FIELD — In a span of just seconds, Samohi was able to put away Inglewood during a game that, through three quarters, could have gone either way.
Holding on to a 14-7 lead during the Ocean League opener, Santa Monica High School’s football team struck for a 51-yard scoring pass from quarterback Christian Salem to wide receiver Michael Jordan to put the Vikings up 21-7.
Just 46 seconds later, during the subsequent Inglewood possession, Samohi defensive back Sebastian LaRue intercepted a pass from Derrick Woods, returning it 30 yards for a score that buried last season’s league champion. Inglewood would add a late touchdown, but it wasn’t enough as Samohi improved to 5-1 with the 28-15 win.
“The boys did well,” Samohi head coach Travis Clark said. “I’m proud of everybody.”
The outcome may have ended in Samohi’s favor, but the game was anything but a breeze.
The Vikings received the opening kickoff, which was fumbled by sophomore returner Will Taylor.
Pinned deep in its own territory, Samohi was able to force Inglewood to turn the ball over on downs when defensive back Kori Garcia tackled the heralded Woods for no gain.
For good measure, the Vikings marched down field after the turnover, capped by a 4-yard score by Garcia who ran it in for an early 7-0 lead.
The Vikings soon tacked on another score when running back London Lewis crossed the goal line from 1 yard out to put Samohi up, 14-0.
The game looked well in hand for Samohi, but Inglewood wasn’t going for it. Running back Jaylenn Hart scampered in for a second-quarter score that brought Inglewood back to life.
The score held until the fourth quarter with both teams unable to find the end zone. That’s when Jordan came through with a leaping grab over a shorter Inglewood defender and ran it to pay dirt.
“I knew I had to make that play,” Jordan said. “Once the [defensive back] jumped into the air too early I knew it was mine.”
Soon after LaRue was able to snag Woods’ pass giving the Vikings all the points they would need to avenge last season’s loss to Inglewood and put them at 1-0 in league play.
The loss wasn’t easy to take for Inglewood head coach Stephen Thomas, who said that the moral victory of hanging with Samohi for three quarters wasn’t enough.
“Winning sucks, man,” Thomas said. “We just had too many turnovers at the wrong times.”
He did note that Samohi is much improved over last season’s team that missed the playoffs. He was impressed by the play of seniors Garcia and Salem, adding that the Vikings could have what it takes to win a league title.
A pair of those turnovers that Thomas wasn’t pleased with were made by safety Matthew Rusk-Kosa. It was the second straight week that the senior was able to pick off two passes.
Rusk-Kosa’s accomplishment wasn’t lost on Clark who called him “a natural ball-hawk.”
“We spent all week watching film on Woods,” Rusk-Kosa said. “We knew what he wanted to do.”
Next for Samohi is a road league game against rival Beverly Hills on Friday.
Clark wasted little time declaring that the win was already history and the only thing on the Vikings’ minds is game two of the league season.
“We can’t look past anybody,” Clark said. “We have to keep doing what’s been working.”