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Laguna Beach slips past Northwood in final seconds
LAGUNA BEACH – After posting dominating victories throughout the regular season, with victory margins as large as 55 and 52 points, Laguna Beach won in a fashion that took more of a toll on its fans' hearts Friday night.
The second-seeded Breakers scored with four seconds remaining on a 12-yard Larry Stewart touchdown pass to Jake Hexberg to defeat Northwood (5-7), 28-21, in a CIF-SS Southern Division quarterfinal matchup at Laguna Beach High. Laguna Beach (11-0-1) will make its second consecutive semifinal appearance next week when it travels to Garden Grove.
"In a night where we didn't play that good on defense, the kids rose to the occasion," Breakers coach Mike Churchill said. "Part of it was that (Northwood) was a really good team. We did a great job to win the game, you couldn't be any happier about that."
As it has done all season, whenever Laguna Beach needed a play, it relied on running back Drake Martinez. Martinez scored three touchdowns, on runs of 50, 2 and 64 yards, which pushed his total to 33 this season.
Martinez might have scored three touchdowns, but his biggest play was a third-down conversion on the winning drive.
Facing a third-and-6, Martinez burst through a hole for 36 yards to the Northwood 38.
"There wasn't any doubt about what we were going to do," Churchill said.
Laguna Beach's final drive came after Northwood tied the score with a 6-yard touchdown pass from Kevin Norman to Andy Clyde with 5:04 remaining.
Clyde caught the ball and crossed the goal line, but appeared to drop the ball as soon as he crossed.
One official ruled it an incompletion; the other ruled it a touchdown before the officials congregated and declared it a touchdown.