Mission Viejo's running back Isaiah Miller goes in for the winning score during the second half at Mission Viejo High. Mission Viejo beat Tesoro 39-33.

Mission Viejo triumphs in wild battle with Tesoro


MISSION VIEJO – Mission Viejo took its turn Friday to rally in the South Coast League and did it the only way it knows:

The Johnson way.

Quarterback Brock Johnson threw for three second-half touchdowns, a 2-point conversion and led another scoring drive as the second-ranked Diablos rallied from a 16-point deficit to stun visiting No. 5 Tesoro, 39-33.

Just one week after Tesoro rallied from a 21-point deficit at the half without quarterback Devon Modster to beat El Toro, it was Johnson who rose in the second half.

POSTGAME TALK: How Mission Viejo rallied past Tesoro

The senior guided Mission Viejo (8-0, 2-0) to its 20th consecutive victory thanks in large part to a winning, 80-yard scoring drive in the fourth quarter. Running back Isaiah Miller capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Diablos a 37-33 lead with 5:18 left.

Johnson added the 2-point conversion with a toss to Jason Lee to make it 39-33.

The Tesoro student section tried to rattle Johnson with chants of “Daddy Ball”, a reference to his father and grandfather on the Mission Viejo coaching staff, but Johnson and Mission Viejo had the final say.

The Diablos defense forced Tesoro to turn the ball over on downs near the Titans’ 49 with 3:56 remaining – after a suspense-filled measurement – and the Diablos ran out the clock.

It was Mission Viejo’s second fourth-down stand in the second half.

“It was an emotional game, emotional all week, but we pulled it out,” Johnson said. “We didn’t play very well in the first half but we settled down at halftime and came out and played physical and executed in the second half. … They (Tesoro) have great fans.”

Tesoro (6-2, 1-1) led 23-10 at halftime and 23-7 late in the second quarter. The Titans defense forced three turnovers in the first half to help slow the Diablos but Mission Viejo played sharper in the second half. Johnson led the way. He attacked Tesoro downfield with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Olajiah Griffin, a 49-yard touchdown toss to Lee and a 35-yard TD strike to Austin Osborne. All three strikes were in the third period.

Johnson’s connection with Griffin came on fourth-and-goal. His 49-yarder came one play after the Diablos’ fourth-down stand led by Christian LaValle.

But Tesoro hung tough as the lead changed five times in the second half. Hayden McGinnis kicked his fourth field goal, a 36-yarder with 10:34 left that gave Tesoro its final lead, 33-31, with 10:34 left in the fourth.

McGinnis made four of five field goal attempt but those were victories for the Diablos' defense. Tesoro drove into the red zone on all five attempts but didn't find the end zone.

“There was just way too many times we were down in the red zone and came away with three points instead of seven,” Tesoro coach Matt Poston said. “You can’t beat a team like this, down there that many times, kicking field goals. … (Johnson) had a good game. You have to give him credit. He made plays.”

Modster, an Arizona commit, returned from a shoulder injury to pass for 415 yards and three touchdowns. Johnson finished with 261 yards, most of which he recorded in the second half.

Miller also returned from a collarbone injury to rush for 114 yards and two TDs on 33 carries.

Tesoro led, 23-10, at halftime behind two touchdown passes by Modster, three field goals by McGinnis and a defense that forced three turnovers.

Modster struck first with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Spencer Heinsius on his pass attempt 42 seconds into the opening quarter. The Titans capitalized after forcing a fumble on the second play of scrimmage that Zach Iris recovered at the Mission Viejo 26.

The Diablos responded with 80-yard scoring drive, capped by a 10-yard run by Miller. Colin Schooler broke a 53-yard run to spark the drive but the Titans weren’t fazed. Tesoro then scored 16 unanswered points to open a 23-7 lead.

Next week, Mission Viejo plays at San Juan Hills while Tesoro takes on Dana Hills.

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