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MICHAEL GOULDING, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Mission Viejo's Alex Suchesk scores a touchdown against La Habra in the first quarter at Cerritos College on Friday.

No. 1 Mission Viejo overwhelms No. 4 La Habra

OCVARSITY.COM

NORWALK – Mission Viejo left no doubt about who has the best public-school team in Orange County.

The Diablos' overall resume also grew more impressive Friday.

Top-ranked Mission Viejo scored 17 points off turnovers and got two touchdown passes from quarterback Ian Fieber in defeating No. 4 La Habra, 46-21, in a nonleague game at Cerritos College.

Only No. 3 Servite and No. 2 Mater Dei separated La Habra (3-1) in the O.C. rankings from Mission Viejo (4-0) but the gap looked larger than that.

“There's always pride on the line,” Mission Viejo defensive end Michael Mathewes said. “At the end of this game, we all knew who (the best) was.”

Mission Viejo opened a 16-0 lead in the first quarter and finished the first half with a flurry to put away the Highlanders early.

The Diablos opened the game with a 62-yard scoring drive capped by a 5-yard touchdown run by running back Alex Suchesk. Fieber helped set up the score with a 27-yard completion to wide receiver Andrew Schuurs to the La Habra 5 on fourth-and-13.

On the ensuing possession, Mathewes forced an intentional grounding against La Habra quarterback Eric Barriere in the end zone for a safety with 6:58 left in the first quarter.

Mission Viejo's next drive started at the Highlanders 45 and ended with a 3-yard touchdown run by Suchesk, and with 2:34 left in the first, it was 16-0.

La Habra responded with a 12-play, 80-yard scoring drive. Running back Carlos Martin scored on a 2-yard run thanks to a clearing lead-block from defensive end Greg Gaines to cut the Diablos' lead to 16-7. Barriere was sharp on the drive, completing 4 of 5 passes for 60 yards.

La Habra kept the momentum by stopping Mission Viejo on a fourth-and-3 near midfield but the Diablos' defense turned up the heat in the final seven minutes of the second quarter.

Trailing, 16-7, La Habra took over at its 48 but was pushed back by penalties and a sack by Mathewes. Mission Viejo lineman Gabriel Meza then recovered a fumbled option attempt at the La Habra 19 with 6:11 left. Two plays later, Fieber threw a 16-yard touchdown to wide receiver Connor Hill with 5:28 left in the second quarter.

Then just about a minute later, Mission Viejo linebacker Brayden Roesch returned an interception 25 yards for a touchdown and a commanding 30-7 lead.

“They're good, and we made a lot of mistakes,” said La Habra coach Frank Mazzotta, whose team committed 14 penalties for 122 yards. “I think our defense did a great job, we just put them in a bad, bad spots. ... You play a good team, and they're going to punish you for it.”

The Diablos delivered their performance six days after knocking of East Coast power Don Bosco Prep of New Jersey, 28-25, in overtime.

“I was a little concerned about (the turnaround) coming in,” Mission Viejo coach Bob Johnson said. “We're real proud of that first half the way we got off so strong … We're coming along and they have a nice, little club over there.”

Mathewes finished with two sacks, recovered a fumble and helped anchor a unit that forced four turnovers. Gaines also had two sacks in the duel of top defensive linemen.

Even without wide receiver Sean Modster (ankle), Fieber -- a San Jose State commit -- completed 11 of 19 passes for 144 yards. He threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Schuurs in the third quarter as the Diablos opened a 37-7 lead.

"(Fieber) was really good," Mazzotta said. "I thought their receivers caught the ball well."

Barriere finished with 201 yards passing and also ran for a 7-yard TD in the fourth. His top target was Elijah Carter, who finished with seven receptions for 96 yards.

Contact the writer: dalbano@ocregister.com


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