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September 20, 2008Before anyone had a chance to get comfortable in the stands, Mater Dei and Corona Centennial had put on a show.
With six touchdowns, two punts and a turnover, the first quarter set the tone for the highly anticipated rematch between the Huskies and Monarchs.
Centennial, with Vontaze Burfict flying around the field disrupting the Mater Dei offense, eventually proved too much for the Matt Barkley led Monarchs, winning 47-35. The two teams set a California record with more than 1,300 yards of offense last season. This year's game came close to that mark, with 420-yards passing and three touchdowns from Barkley.
In front of Pete and Brennan Carroll, Barkley and fellow University of Southern California verbal commitment Burfict, were the headliners on the field, but a few other lesser know players proved they could play with the stars.
First among them was Arthur Burns, a Rivals.com three-star all-purpose back, who had nearly 250-yards rushing with four touchdowns.
"I just had to do what I had to do. I needed to come out here and replace Ryan Bass and execute for the team, and get a scholarship to college," Burns, who holds official offers from Colorado State, San Diego State, UNLV and Wyoming, said. "There were some coaches here, but there's a lot more football to be played."
Coming into the showdown with Mater Dei, Burns had a disappointing start to his season with only 47-yards rushing. He knew that this had to be his game.
"Around the second the series, I knew that I was capable of turning this game around," he said. "I was firing and ready at practice (all week), I just had to get it together. It was mostly because of last week. I had to get the first game jitters out of the way."
His teammate and University of California, Los Angeles verbal commit, Ricky Marvray had 200 all-purpose-yards in the first half, including a 95-yard kick return.
"I just came into this game - a really hyped game - knowing that composure would be everything, so I just tried to calm down and make plays when I needed to," Marvray said. "I just asked for God's help to calm me down, and, honestly, I just turned this game situation into practice.
"Once I did that, it seemed to slow down and make it a lot easier."
The Huskies had a number of plays that appeared to break the spirit of the Monarch defense, including an unprecedented 90-yard touchdown drive that had six Centennial penalties, giving them a 33-21 lead with less than three minutes to play in the half.
But Barkley hit 2011 wide receiver Victor Blackwell with a 77-yard touchdown strike and appeared to grab some momentum backing heading into the half.
But the Huskies came out and controlled both sides of the ball in the second half behind the play of Burfict and Burns.
"We got a little complicated (in the first half)," Centennial coach Matt Logan said. "We simplified the defense a little in the second half and that worked (well)."
Trailing 47-28 halfway through the fourth quarter, Barkley and Co. began to move the ball against the Huskies. With the Monarchs at the Husky 15-yard line, behind 47-35, Centennial's J.B. Austin picked off Barkley for the second time of the night to seal the victory.
While not retribution for their loss to Mater Dei last season, coach Logan summed up the sentiments of the Huskies after their win.
"It feels good to be on the winning end, real good."
Stay tuned to USCFootball.com for more from Friday's showdown.