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Passing attack keeps Mission Viejo on winning path
LAKE FOREST – Mission Viejo quarterback Matt McDonald and wide receiver Austin Osborne didn’t want people to forget just how dangerous a combination they can be when they’re in sync.
Feeling as if the Diablos’ aerial attack had been lacking over the past three weeks, the two came into Friday night’s nonleague matchup against El Toro ready to prove themselves.
There was no denying the chemistry between the two in the first half against El Toro. Osborne hauled in six passes from McDonald for 222 yards and five touchdowns as No. 2 Mission Viejo rolled to a 55-14 victory over the No. 22 Chargers.
“We were a little off the last three games and we knew that,” McDonald said. “We expect better of ourselves. This was a great bounce-back game.”
McDonald completed 12 of 21 passes for 358 yards and seven total touchdowns. After giving up a touchdown to El Toro on the Chargers’ opening drive, Mission Viejo’s defense held the Chargers to 24 yards for the remainder of the first half.
The Diablos’ defensive front held El Toro to 22 rushing yards in the first half and 52 total, which put pressure on quarterback Cooper Jones to move the ball downfield.
Cornerback Akili Arnold intercepted Jones twice in the first half. Both turnovers led to touchdowns late in the first half for the Diablos.
“I told them, they could come out in that first series like anyone can, and we needed to be ready,” Diablos coach Bob Johnson said. “Sure enough, (El Toro) did what I told them. They didn’t like that prediction, but it worked out.”
El Toro (1-5) marched 69 yards for a TD on nine plays as Jones hit Steven Castaneda for an 11-yard TD.
But McDonald and Osborne could not be stopped in the first half. McDonald hit Osborne for a 6-yard score on Mission Viejo’s first drive to tie the score, 7-7.
Osborne navigated the Chargers’ secondary, finding himself with plenty of room to catch passes. McDonald also connected with the junior receiver for touchdown passes of 69, 26, 7 and 71 yards.
“We looked at the defense and the safeties were only 8 yards off,” Osborne said. “We looked at each other and said let’s do this. It feels good to get back into it.”
McDonald’s final first-half TD went to Olaijah Griffin for 34 yards as time expired, giving Mission Viejo (6-0) a 42-7 halftime lead. McDonald hit Christian Lavalle for a 35-yard score on the first drive of the second half before sitting the remainder of the game.
Jones threw a 7-yard TD pass to Austin Derrico late in the third. Mission Viejo responded with a 16-yard TD pass from Christian Kovnesky to Steven Munoz.
“I think we’re improving each week,” Johnson said. “They’ve had a few setbacks, but these are high school kids, they always do.“
Mission Viejo opens South Coast League play at Tesoro next week. El Toro will open Sea View League play at home against Aliso Niguel.
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