Yorba Linda's Drew Dahlson, left, and Bobby Brattain celebrate a win over El Modena in Friday's Division 8 semifinal. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

Miraculous TD helps lift Yorba Linda past El Modena


YORBA LINDA – The ball slipped out of Luke Wilson’s hand. It beat Ricky Lane to the end zone and bounced off the hands of two defensive backs.

How Luke Adams ended up with it, well, “sometimes you’ve got to be lucky,” Yorba Linda coach Jeff Bailey said.

Adams’ miraculous 38-yard touchdown catch as time expired in the first half answered a prayer. Jaydyn Webb and the Mustangs offensive line made sure that gift didn’t go to waste.

Webb, a junior, rushed for 124 yards Friday night and scored the winning touchdown as Yorba Linda defeated El Modena, 28-21, at Yorba Linda High.

“We have kids that can make a play,” Bailey said. “And it’s about time the ball bounce our way.”

Yorba Linda, which missed the playoffs two seasons ago, advances to its first CIF-SS final. The Mustangs (11-2) will host Burbank in next Saturday’s Division 8 title game.

“We started this year thinking we had a good chance of going this far,” said Wilson, who threw for 176 yards and two touchdowns. “We wanted to win, and we showed it. This was a revenge game for us. We wanted it more tonight.”

In the fourth quarter, after El Modena knotted the score at 21 on Dillon Keefe’s third touchdown run, Yorba Linda took over at its 30.

The Mustangs converted on a third down and two fourth downs, and Webb capped the winning drive with a short TD run.

“I have to thank my offensive line for making holes big enough to run through,” said Webb, who carried the ball 10 times on the 15-play drive. “I was focused on getting first downs, on driving. I couldn’t do it without my offensive linemen. I’m so proud of them.”

El Modena started the ensuing possession on its 2-yard line. The Vanguards made it to their 29 before an interception by Yorba Linda’s Bobby Brattain secured victory.

“It’s neat when the football team has success because it sets the tempo for the year,” said Bailey, the only football coach Yorba Linda has known. “We have a great staff, administration, kids, student body. It’s neat to be around this stuff.”

El Modena, the North Hills League champion, has lost in the CIF semifinals three years running.

The Vanguards (11-2) were the No. 1 seed in Division 8.

Keefe, a senior, scored three times and rushed for 79 yards. He also intercepted a pass. Quarterback AJ Esperanza threw for 135 yards.

“Our senior leadership is off the charts,” Wilson said. “We have some of the best senior leadership in Orange County. As underclassmen, we bought in – in practice, in the weight room. There are no words to describe the kind of leadership we have.”

Yorba Linda wasn’t ranked in the Div. 8 preseason poll.

“We fought our way through every game,” Bailey said.

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