By Ted Apodaca
Westminster High had another solid second half to defeat St. Genevieve, 42-20, in a first round CIF-SS Division 11 football playoff game on Friday at Westminster High.
The Lions (9-2) looked like they might take control of the game about midway through the first half with a 65-yard touchdown drive that gave the Lions a 22-6 lead. Christian Jaime had key runs on the drive and he capped it with a three-yard touchdown run.
St. Genevieve answered with a touchdown of their own to cut the lead to 22-12, but the Lions regained momentum with a TD drive to open the second half. Quarterback Noah Melbon had a 14-yard pass to Joel Navarro on the drive and also connected with Ricardo Cazares on a 24-yard pass that got the Lions down to the Valiant 20 yard line. Four plays later, Jaime capped the drive with a five-yard touchdown run to push the lead to 29-12.
“We just were able to find our way in the second half and we really played consistently,” Lion coach Ted McMillen said.
The Lion defense would keep the Valiant offense stumped until late in the game, while the Westminster offense would lean on its running game. Jaime finished the game with 154 rushing yards and four touchdowns, as Westminster increased its lead to 42-12 until the final minutes of the game.
“He always runs hard … he’s just going to keep bringing,” McMillen said of Jaime.
Westminster had taken an 8-0 lead in the first quarter. After kicking off to start the game, the Lion defense stopped the St. Genevieve offense to get possession of the ball at midfield. Melbon capped a seven-play drive with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Malachi Mesa to start the scoring. Melbon finished the game with 178 yards passing, with another touchdown to Navarro that gave the Lions a 35-12 lead.
Westminster will be on the road in round two, as they play at 7 p.m. at Covina High. The Colts are 9-2 this season and were in a three-way tie for the Valley Vista League championship.
While strong second half performances have buoyed the Lions this year, Navarro said that a key for the Lions to go deep in the playoffs will be being sharper in the first half.
“We need to start off better, we’re known as a second half team, we need to start it and finish it,” Navarro said.