LAS VEGAS — Eastside Catholic reigns supreme in Washington.
But on a national level, the Class 3A state champion Crusaders (12-2) got a taste of reality.
Marietta (Ga.), ranked No. 13 by USA Today, dominated Eastside in every facet Friday night in the Geico State Champions Bowl Series en route to a 53-14 win at Bishop Gorman High School.
Led by 517 yards passing, the Blue Devils outgained Eastside 562-292 without even touching the ball in the fourth quarter.
“They’ve got a really good team,” Crusaders coach Dominic Daste said. “Their personnel is really talented. From a scheme standpoint, we felt good about everything. Their personnel is really good, their kids play hard. You make it this far, you’re pretty good obviously. We struggled; we couldn’t put anything together consistently. Obviously we showed flashes of doing some good things.”
Eastside quarterback Kobe Muasau finished with 21 of 34 for 149 yards and one touchdown. Running back Gio Ursino rushed for 129 yards on 16 carries and had one touchdown. Receiver Gee Scott Jr. had 11 receptions for 78 yards and one touchdown.
Marietta, which didn’t have a possession in the fourth quarter — and didn’t need it — set the tone early by scoring on the first play of its first two possessions and three of its first four.
“They definitely came out to play,” said Scott, an Ohio State signee. “We didn’t put our best foot forward. We came out here and they got the best of us by a good shot and I got respect for that team.”
The Blue Devils employed a bit of trickery on the first offensive play of the game, as quarterback Harrison Bailey handed off to Tyler Hughes, who found Arik Gilbert for a 62-yard catch-and-run score. One play after safety Rashun Bass intercepted Muasau and returned it 41 yards, Bailey hooked up with Kimani Vidal for a 27-yard touchdown on a screen pass.
The Crusaders had their chances to stay in the game during the first half, driving deep into Marietta territory twice. With a first down at Marietta’s 15-yard line, the Crusaders struggled on four straight downs, and failed to convert on a fourth-and-seven, handing the ball back to Marietta. The Blue Devils answered six plays later and extended their lead to 33-0.
It was still 33-0 when Eastside finally got on the board, as Muasau found Scott in the corner of the end zone for a 15-yard strike midway through the second quarter.
Later, on a third down from the Blue Devils’ 26-yard line, Ursino rushed 11 yards before being cracked by two Marietta defenders and fumbling the ball away. Again, the Blue Devils responded with another touchdown that made it 39-7.
The Blue Devils outgained Eastside in the first half 492 yards to 151, while taking a 46-7 lead into the locker room at halftime. The second half was played with a running clock as Nevada has a mercy rule that is triggered with a 35-point lead.
“We played poorly in the first quarter and they have some really good players and really good athletes,” Daste said. “I don’t think our winds were ever taken out of our sails. Our kids fight every snap. It was just a tough game.”
Marietta (14-2) won Georgia’s Class 7A state title last weekend, its first state title since 1967. The Cruaders beat O’Dea for their second consecutive state title Dec. 7.
Last season, Eastside Catholic defeated Centennial of Peoria, Ariz., 17-0 in Peoria in the bowl series.