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Mission Viejo wins a real rush
MISSION VIEJO – An undefeated Mission Viejo football team had rarely been challenged over the course of this season.
But in the second round Friday night, there was a hush from the hometown crowd as the top-ranked Diablos entered the halftime locker room behind.
The Diablos got the running game going in the second half, however, and defeated Murrieta Valley, 42-21, in advancing to the CIF-SS West Valley Division semifinals.
Mission Viejo (12-0) will travel to Chino Hills in the next round. The Huskies (10-2) edged Valencia of Valencia, 16-14, in their second-round game.
“I was real proud of the kids the way they battled,” Diablos coach Bob Johnson said. “I didn’t expect anything different.
“I expected to win this game, but I knew it would be a hard-fought game and it was. My hat goes off to (Murrieta Valley).”
The Diablos, who trailed 14-13 at the half, gained 164 yards on the ground from that point. All four second-half scores were a product of the running game, three by Colin Schooler, who had 224 total yards (125 rushing).
Mission Viejo had two chances to kick field goals to extend six-point leads to a two-possession advantage, but the Diablos opted to go for it both times.
Brock Johnson’s throw was intercepted by Jaylen Moore in the end zone on the first attempt. On the second attempt, Johnson redeemed himself with a 23-yard pass to Jason Lee on a fourth-and-7 at the Nighthawks’ 25.
“It’s the playoffs, so go big or go home,” Schooler said of leaving the offense on the field. “We just play full games. It’s what we do.”
The spirited Nighthawks (9-3) had dedicated their season to teammate Diego Villareal, who took his own life earlier this year. Murrieta Valley honored him by wearing his No. 99 on their helmets.
The Nighthawks were the second seed out of the Southwestern League, despite a very young roster. Freshman quarterback Hank Bachmeier looked poised throughout the game, giving his team a chance with several big gains while avoiding turnovers.
Quincy Wimbish rushed for 137 yards to lead Murrieta Valley’s rushing attack.
The night started off well for Mission Viejo. AJ Knight and Christian Lavalle had a combined sack to force a three-and-out on the opening drive, and the ensuing punt was returned 50 yards by Austin Osborne for the game’s first score.