Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei quarterback Matt Barkley led the Mater Dei Monarchs over the Carson Colts 46-43 in triple overtime Wednesday night.
Barkley, rated as Rivals.com No. 1 player nationally, ended the game completing 15-of-31 passes for 304-yards and six touchdowns.
However, even in victory, Barkley was disappointed with his four interceptions.
"It was a great game, but honestly, it shouldn't have come down to that," said Barkley. "Give Carson credit for fighting back, but we were up early and made some mistakes.
"It was ugly, but a win is a win. I'm proud of my guys for hanging in there . . . it's those stripes, baby!"
Mistakes, for the most part, that were forced by Carson's pass rush.
Barkley and the Monarchs went up 12-0 early in the first quarter when the USC commit hit sophomore wide out Victor Blackwell on a 19-yard skinny post for the game's second score. That touchdown followed Blackwell's 92-yard kickoff return for a score to open the game.
Missing both extra points, Carson cut into the lead when quarterback Daniel Torres found Morrell Presley for a 31-yard touchdown reception. Presley, who finished the game with 91-yards receiving, caught the ball in the flats before turning it up field for the score.
On Mater Dei's next drive, Kevin Lane intercepted a Matt Barkley deflected pass and returned it for a 30-yard touchdown. That put the Colts up 14-12.
Storming back, Barkley threw a 63-yard strike to Ario Winston on a blown coverage to regain the lead, 20-14. Winston would finish the night as Mater Dei's leading receiver with three touchdown catches.
Barkley, who was eight of 14 for 186 yards and two touchdowns before halftime, started to feel the Carson pass rush becoming a factor.
"They got in my face a couple of times and made some big plays," said Barkley. "But Ario stepped it up for us. This game was a real confidence builder for him."
Torres would tie the game for Carson 20-20 with 24 seconds remaining in the first half on a short run into the endzone.
The Colts would then jump on Mater Dei in the third quarter 34-20 after a second Barkley interception led to a short Daniel Torres touchdown run. But when the Monarchs looked down and out, Barkley and Winston connected for consecutive touchdown competitions, taking the game into overtime, 34-34.
ESPN, which televised the game nationally, informed Mater Dei head coach Bruce Rollinson earlier in the week that National Federation of High School rules would apply in the event of overtime.
"They said we were playing by the national rules, but then at midfield we hear you don't go for extra points or the two-point conversions," said Rollinson. "That's when the confusion started."
Instead, the game would conclude under City Section rules. Both schools would be given possession at the 10-yard line, and both schools would score touchdowns on their first play. Barkley, 10-of-20 for 243-yards and three touchdowns going into overtime, would hit Derek Campbell to make the score 40-40.
Extra points, which were said to be excluded from overtime, suddenly became the game's biggest factor. Carson would miss their PAT attempt, while in turn blocking Mater Dei's.
"No joke, I was praying the whole time at the point," said Barkley.
Entering the second overtime, six extra point opportunities were missed.
On the ensuing possession, Mater Dei would be held scoreless. After a Winston touchdown reception was called back for holding, Carson's A.J. Ropati would step in front of Barkley's fourth interception of the night.
But just when it seemed Carson had the game won, the Colts would miss consecutive opportunities to kick game winning field goals. A bad snap botched Juan Sanchez's 24-yard field goal attempt on third down. Maintaining possession on fourth down, Sanchez 's kick from 31-yards out would be blocked by Christian Maldonado, forcing a third overtime.
The Colts would go up a field goal on their next possession before Barkley ended the game by sailing a pass in the corner of the endzone to a leaping Derek Campbell.