Left junior wide reciever Sebastian Larue friom the Santa Monica Varsity boys football team catches the football as it was thrown to him by quarterback Christian Salem as he was being guarded by junior Xavier Clark from the Hawthrone High School boys Varsity football team at Hawthrone High School as Hawthrone hosted SAMO ion Friday november 11th 2011 in an ocean league football game and lost 45-26 with the win SAMO finish the regualar season with 5-0 league record and 9-1 over all (photo by Morgan Genser)

HAWTHORNE — Samohi completed a perfect Ocean League season, but not without adversity.

Santa Monica High School’s football team gave up a season-high 26 points to Hawthorne on the road Friday, something that didn’t sit well with the team and their coach after time expired on a 45-26 win.

“Obviously, this isn’t the way we’d like to win, but we’ll take it,” Head Coach Travis Clark said.

The win improved Samohi to 9-1 overall and most importantly 5-0 in league. While that put smiles on the faces of many Vikings, it was the way that they won that had Clark less than pleased during his postgame huddle with the team.

He implored the Vikings to put the game behind them and prepare for Fridays first round CIF-Southern Section Western Division playoff game at Santa Monica College’s Corsair Field. The Vikings will host Channel Islands.

“I told them it’s a tough way to end the season,” Clark said. “But, we just have to move on to the next situation.”

The Vikings entered the Hawthorne game with the league title in hand, but had to finish strong to defend their playoff seeding.

Everything started according to plan for Samohi. Senior running back Kori Garcia scored from five yards out to give the Vikings an early 7-0 lead, but that’s when Samohi showed signs of a letdown.

Hawthorne rallied for two touchdowns, the second coming on a 64-yard screen pass from quarterback Rickie Calderon to Steven Gantt that put the Vikings behind for one of the few times all season.

Trailing 14-7 in the second quarter, Clark paced the sideline, telling his team to relax and begin work on a comeback.

The Vikings responded with a 42-yard pass from quarterback Christian Salem to senior wide receiver Anthony “Animal” Hernandez that tied the game at 14.

After forcing Hawthorne to punt on the next possession, Samohi marched down field capping the drive with a four-yard score by Garcia. After a successful two-point conversion by Garcia, Samohi seemed to have snatched the momentum, going up 22-14.

But, that momentum was fleeting as Hawthorne defensive back Isaiah Barme picked off a Salem pass, returning it 45 yards for a touchdown that closed the gap to 22-20 late in the second quarter.

With less than a minute remaining in the second quarter, Salem led Samohi on an impressive drive, setting up a five-yard scoring pass to Sebastian LaRue with two seconds left on the clock. The Vikings weren’t successful on a two-point attempt taking a 28-20 lead into half-time.

The lead would hold during the second half as Garcia tacked on two more touchdown runs to complete the perfect league season.

“It’s a bittersweet victory,” said Garcia, who finished the night with four touchdowns. “I’m glad for the win, but we didn’t play our best game today.”


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