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Mission Viejo stays grounded as it rushes past La Habra
MISSION VIEJO – Mission Viejo is known for its prolific quarterbacks, but the second-ranked Diablos also love to pound the ball on the ground.
The reigning CIF-SS and state champions rushed for five touchdowns Friday night to settle themselves from a rocky start and extend their California-leading winning streak to 31 games with a 32-14 victory against visiting La Habra, also a defending CIF champion.
Emerging sophomore running back Jamari Ferrell rushed for two scores while fellow backs Colin Schooler, Demarlo Cobbins and quarterback Matt McDonald each rushed for one TD.
The foursome combined for 198 yards on 44 carries to help the Diablos (3-0) overcome two first-quarter turnovers and three touchdowns nullified by penalties.
“They’re good,” La Habra coach Frank Mazzotta said of the Diablos, who play host to Long Beach Poly next week. “And they seem to have some really good backs. The guy who is crazy is Schooler (6-foot-1, 218 pounds).
“For a big (guy), he dances around and people miss him. … (Heck) of an athlete.”
Mission Viejo opened the second half with its signature drive, a 10-play, 80-yard drive capped by a 3-yard TD run by Ferrell, who gave the Diablos a 26-7 lead.
La Habra’s defense and lineman Alex Valencia stopped Mission Viejo on a fourth-and-goal from the 4 on the next drive but Cobbins scored on another 3-yard run on the Diablos’ next possession to make it 32-7 midway through the fourth.
“It feels good to run the ball, just wear them down,” said Diablos left tackle Jarrett Patterson, who teamed on the offensive line with Draydon DeHart, Rhyno Rodriguez, Jeremy Belongie and Cedric Tufaga. “We definitely wore them down mentally.”
Mission Viejo’s defense also showed progress. After Oak Hills scored 28 points last week, the Diablos allowed La Habra (1-2) only 35 yards of offense in the first half and then stopped Madison Wheeler on three consecutive runs on the Highlanders’ first possession of the third quarter.
Diablos cornerback Olaijah Griffin punctuated the first half with a jarring hit on La Habra wide out Prince Ross for a pass deflection. Griffin also had an interception in the first half while AJ Knight added a sack.
“We just brought it every snap tonight,” said Mission Viejo inside linebacker Christian LaValle, who had three tackles for losses.
Mission Viejo opened a 20-7 lead late in the second quarter on Schooler’s 9-yard TD run, capping a 55-yard drive with 1:16 left in the half.
La Habra took an early 7-0 lead on a 10-yard TD run by Wheeler with 5:15 left in the first, one play after Ricardo Casillas recovered a muffed punt by Mission Viejo at the Diablos 10.
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