PALO ALTO -- After a wild first half in which eight touchdowns were scored, four by each team, Serra took total control of its Central Coast Section Open Division playoff game with host Palo Alto on Friday night.

The Padres kept scoring and prevented Palo Alto from doing the same as the No. 5 seed Padres pulled away for a 52-35 victory.

Serra will get a rematch with No. 1 seed Bellarmine in the Open Division semifinals. Bellarmine won the first meeting between the rivals, 35-34 in overtime.

Serra (9-2) scored on its first three possessions of the second half -- on a 45-yard field goal by Anthony Toms, and then with successive touchdowns to break out from a 28-28 halftime tie and take a 45-28 lead.

Meanwhile, the Serra defense started shutting down a Palo Alto offense that had been plenty potent in the first half and came into the game averaging more than 40 points per game on the season.

"We gave them a couple of easy scores in the first half, but we were right with them at halftime," Palo Alto coach Earl Hansen said. "I was feeling good about where we were. But in the second half we weren't good on either side. Our protection wasn't as good and we couldn't stop them."

It was an altogether convincing performance and one that put Serra's 24-0 loss to St. Francis in the final week of the regular season in the rearview mirror. Serra rushed for 500 yards with Eric Redwood going for 289 and four touchdowns.

"We were not happy at all about last week," Redwood said. "It really motivated us for this game."

Serra's defense limited Palo Alto to 19 yards total on the Vikings' first three possessions of the second half. Palo Alto quarterback Keller Chryst was sacked four times overall, three times in the second half.

"That was really great to see," Serra coach Patrick Walsh said. "We had two turnovers in the first half, and they made some big plays. In the second half we did a good job of minimizing their big plays. That was the key. We just tackled better, the secondary got up in press coverage and we got some sacks."

After the field goal by Toms gave Serra a 31-28 lead, the defense got a stop and fullback Fia Malepeai ran 28 yards for a touchdown and a 38-28 lead. Then after another stop, Anthony Arco bolted 69 yards for another touchdown.

Chryst, Palo Alto's strong-armed quarterback, was 12 of 26 for 224 yards. Matt Tolbert carried 13 times for 101 yards and had three catches for 50 yards.

The first half was quite an offensive show. Palo Alto scored first on a nicely executed play. With the split end on the left side running a down-and-in, Chryst threw a left-side swing pass to Tolbert, who took it into the vacated area for a 28-yard touchdown reception.

Serra responded on a 14-yard TD run by quarterback Zack Kazakoff after a nice fake.

Palo Alto capitalized on a fumble recovery by Drew Rider to score the next touchdown. Chryst hit Jayshawn Gates-Mouton on a 43-yard completion, then scored on a 1-yard sneak to put Palo Alto up 14-6. But a high snap out of punt formation gave Serra the ball at the Palo Alto 1 and Redwood scored on the next play. A two-point conversion run by Kava Cassidy tied it 14-14.

Serra took the lead on a 43-yard run by Redwood. Tolbert responded with an 82-yard touchdown run and Chryst hit tight end De'Antay Williams with a 25-yard touchdown pass to make it 28-21. But Serra managed to drive 83 yards in the final minutes of the half to tie it 28-28 at halftime on a 2-yard run by Redwood.

Contact Glenn Reeves at 650-348-4345 or greeves@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/GReeves23.