Lancers capture CIF title with double overtime win over Norwalk
By Eric Terrazas
FULLERTON – The old saying, “the third time is a charm,” rang true for La Serna High School’s football team on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013.
La Serna senior quarterback Frankie Palmer threw a 19-yard game-winning touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Matthew Rosales, lifting the Lancers to a thrilling 41-38 double overtime victory over top-seeded Norwalk in the CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division championship game in front of a packed house at Cal State Fullerton.
Saturday’s triumph marked the second CIF-SS divisional title for La Serna, which won its first crown in 1967. It was the third consecutive divisional championship game appearance for the Lancers, who fell short in 2011 and 2012 before breaking through on Saturday.
La Serna’s winning score came on a fourth-down-and-4 play, which started with Palmer rolling out to his left. Palmer then went back to his right before launching the decisive throw to Rosales.
“I saw one of my best friends open, threw it and he made the play,” Palmer said of Rosales.
Palmer added, “It feels great to end my career on a high note. Our team deserved it. We worked really hard for it. We finally got it done.”
Said Rosales, “Frankie rolled out left and came back out. I saw him launch the ball. I made a play for it and I caught it. (The hard work) finally paid off.”
Palmer also ran for three touchdowns for La Serna, which ended its historic 2013 season with an overall record of 12-2.
“I’m proud of my boys,” La Serna coach Margarito Beltran said. “The third time is the charm. I’m so proud of them.”
Things looked bleak for the Lancers in the later stages of the fourth quarter.
Norwalk, whose nickname is also the Lancers, was leading 29-21 and was looking to put the game away.
After forcing a La Serna incompletion, Norwalk took possession at La Serna’s 22-yard line. Norwalk moved the ball to La Serna’s 4 before senior kicker Jorge Perez attempted a 21-yard field goal with just more than three minutes remaining.
La Serna senior defensive back Tony Ceron, however, blocked Perez’s attempt. Junior running back/linebacker Kevin Ramos then recovered the ball and returned it 75 yards for a touchdown. Palmer’s successful run on the two-point conversion tied the game at 29-29, setting the stage for overtime.
Norwalk, which won the toss and elected to go on offense first, cast the initial blow during the extra session. Junior quarterback Jacob Carr gave Norwalk a 35-29 advantage when he scored on a 1-yard run.
La Serna then successfuly countered with Palmer’s 2-yard run before Perez’s 21-yard field goal put Norwalk back ahead 38-35. Norwalk’s lead would not last long, however.
It was the first defeat of the season for Norwalk, which finished 13-1.
After Palmer’s 4-yard run gave La Serna a 21-14 lead at halftime, Norwalk responded by scoring 15 unanswered points.
Carr’s 18-yard touchdown toss to senior running back Rashaad Penny, followed by Carr’s successful two-point conversion run, gave Norwalk a 22-21 lead in the third quarter.
Norwalk then extended its lead when Penny ran for a 61-yard touchdown, which came with 7 minutes, 10 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.