Mary Star High football found that out the hard way early against St. Anthony of Long Beach.
The Saints bolted to a 21-0 second quarter lead, and would fight off a hard-charging attempt at a comeback from the host Stars, who eventually lost 34-21 in a nonleague game at Daniels Field in San Pedro. St. Anthony (3-0), who scored 94 points in their first two games, were held to their lowest point total thus far this season, but that was more than enough on this night.
Even so, Mary Star (1-2) still made a game out of it in the second half.
Senior running back Shane Nunez ran for 212 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown, while junior quarterback Derrick Edwards, who got the call to somewhat counter St. Anthony's speed, would complete 3-of-7 passes for 36 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. Edwards was inserted into the game after the Saints sacked starting senior quarterback Tyler Sestich twice on the Stars' second possession of the first quarter.
Edwards made an impression early on with a 26-yard first down run off an option keeper in the first quarter.
Jake Hooper's 84-yard touchdown pass to Keith Jackson gave St. Anthony a commanding 21-0 lead with 5:43 left in the second quarter, but on the Saints' next series, Hooper was intercepted by Mary Star senior linebacker Donald Olkie, giving the Stars a chance.
Edwards hit sophomore WR/DB Vinny Lauro with a perfect fade pass in the left corner of the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown coming with 15.9 seconds left before halftime, with the Stars trailing 21-7.
St. Anthony would score just over two minutes into the third quarter to go up 28-7, but the Stars still hung in there as senior WR/DB Robert Bruschi, who had three pass breakups, ran in for a four-yard touchdown with 2:19 left in the quarter, then the Saints scored again with 33 seconds remaining to make it 34-14, as the PAT kick was blocked.
The fourth quarter was owned by Mary Star, as they held St. Anthony scoreless. Nunez's 17-yard touchdown would cut their deficit down to 34-21, and then senior defensive lineman Anthony Garcia recovered a fumble with over five minutes to go. Suddenly, Mary Star was on its way to making it closer than anyone would have expected.
Edwards would lose a fumble three plays later, allowing St. Anthony to kill some clock, but Mary Star would one more possession with under two minutes left.
Nunez broke for runs of 26 and 30 yards, along with Edwards completing a 15-yard pass to senior wide receiver Bryan Perez to put the Stars into a first-and-goal situation with under a minute left, but on fourth down from the two-yard line, Edwards would toss a short pass into the end zone for senior fullback David Lopez that was dropped with 27.2 seconds remaining. The Saints then ran out the rest of the clock to seal the win.
Despite the loss, the Stars gained valuable experience and growth as they prepare for a crucial Del Rey League opener at Bishop Montgomery of Torrance next Friday.