Palos Verdes coach Guy Gardner called a timeout with his team trailing by four with four minutes to play in Friday night’s CIF Southern Section Division 5 quarterfinal clash with Aquinas.

Having a sub-par night, PV’s offense was limited to 31 offensive yards in the first half, including two first downs.

The timeout seemingly energized the Sea Kings. Jake Jellison found Julian Alessi over the middle for a 54-yard touchdown pass, and PV’s defense shut Aquinas down on its next two possessions before escaping with a 12-7 victory at El Camino College.

Palos Verdes (9-3) will travel to Glendora for a semifinal meeting next Friday.

“We talked about running that crossing route earlier in the game,” Alessi said. “It wasn’t a designed play. (Aquinas’) safeties stayed high, and I ran under. It was a great read by (Jellison).”

With its first lead of the game, PV’s defense kept the Aquinas offense under wraps. Ryan Wilson and Justin Booth recorded sacks on the following series, forcing Aquinas to punt.

Three plays later, Wilson’s fumble gave Aquinas the ball at the Falcons 14-yard line.

Again, PV’s defense did not fold. Caleb Gutierrez sacked Aquinas quarterback Caleb Williams on the first play of the series before Gutierrez, Booth and Luke Spanjol brought Williams down in the end zone for a safety.

“We knew we needed to get another three-and-out (after Wilson’s fumble),” Booth said. “Getting the safety was great, but we knew the game wasn’t over, yet.”

Aquinas (10-2) controlled the tempo in the first half, forcing a pair of turnovers and taking a 7-0 lead on Malakai Vaipuli’s 59-yard TD rumble with 8:50 to play in the second quarter. Vaipuli finished with 72 yards on five carries, while Andrew Kellstrom led Aquinas with 95 yards on 23 carries.

“We knew we had to try and limit the holes, and get into the gaps,” PV defensive coordinator Jim Hudnall said. “The kids worked really hard all week, and it was fun to see them get it.”

The Falcons had a shot to go into the half with a two-possession lead. But with time winding down, Spanjol sacked Williams to keep Aquinas out of the end zone to end the half. Spanjol and Gutierrez each finished with 2 1/2 sacks.

PV cut into its deficit on its second drive of the third quarter. Jellison and Alessi hooked up for a 57-yard gain, and six plays later, Derek Roah’s 25-yard field goal made it a 7-3 game.

After giving up 167 yards in the first half, PV’s defense limited Aquinas to 41 yards in the second half.

“This team is so resilient. We have battle scars,” Hudnall said. “Our nonleague schedule taught us a lot about ourselves. There’s no quit in this team.”

PV’s offense was limited to 193 yards on the night, and the team was hit with 57 penalty yards.

“We’re fortunate we survived,” Gardner said. “We’ll watch film and see what we need to improve on. We knew (Aquinas) was going to be a tough and physical team.”

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