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ED CRISOSTOMO, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Mission Viejo's Benn Vallier, right, battles for yardage against La Habra's defense during the first half Friday. The Diablos won, 24-14.

No. 2 Mission Viejo puts away No. 7 La Habra

STAFF WRITER

LA HABRA – It was Orange County’s second-ranked team vs. No. 7.

It was North vs. South. Maybe the two best public-school teams in the county.

As Mission Viejo’s Colin Schooler summarized, “Great competition, a great game.”

Mission Viejo was the greater team Friday when the Diablos beat host La Habra, 24-14, in a nonleague game.

Schooler returned an interception 27 yards for a touchdown with 2:30 left to finally put the game away for the Diablos, No. 2 in the county, who improved to 4-0.

No. 7 La Habra is 2-1.

Mission Viejo senior quarterback Brock Johnson completed 14 of 25 passes for 219 yards and one touchdown with one interception.

Johnson’s touchdown pass came on the first play from scrimmage of the third quarter. On first down at the Mission Viejo 20-yard line, Johnson launched a deep ball that found sophomore receiver Austin Osborne at the La Habra 45, from where Osborne sprinted unchallenged to the end zone for a 17-7 Diablos lead.

The Highlanders scored a touchdown on their ensuing possession. La Habra quarterback Eric Barriere connected with Eric Garcia on a 10-yard touchdown pass to trim the Mission Viejo lead to 17-14 with 5:55 left in the third quarter.

La Habra’s next possession ended with a punt early in the fourth quarter. The next time they got the ball, Schooler intercepted a pass tipped at the line by teammate Ryan Dove and took it into the end zone for the game-clinching points.

It took a while after the game for Mission Viejo players and coaches to figure out it was Dove who tipped that pass.

“I guess it had to be Carter Hartmann,” Schooler said. “He played out of his mind today.”

Hartmann, a 6-foot-3, 255-pound defensive lineman who has offers from BYU, San Jose State and others, had two sacks. A force all game, on one La Habra possession Hartmann had tackles for losses of 11 and 13 yards.

Hartmann is exceptionally quick for his size. Mission Viejo coach Bob Johnson explained why.

“He’s been a basketball player all his life,” Johnson said. “That’s about all he’s ever played.”

Mission Viejo receiver Jason Lee had six catches for 66 yards and scored on an end around in the first half.

The Diablos played without their top offensive lineman, Zack Aylor, and leading rusher Isaiah Miller because of injures.

La Habra coach Frank Mazzotta was disappointed by the outcome. He thought the Highlanders had some chances of which they failed to take advantage and made a couple of crucial errors, and is confident the team will learn from it.

“It’s only game three,” Mazzotta said. “So we have a lot of opportunities to become a great football team.”

Olajah Griffin had an interception for Mission Viejo. Jake Colacion had one for La Habra.

La Habra took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, scoring on its game-opening possession on a C.J. Taylor 10-yard touchdown run around the right side.

The Diablos scored on their second possession, Lee’s 13-yard end around that tied it it, 7-7, with 1:53 left in the first quarter. Josh Davey kicked a 31-yard field goal with 40 seconds left in the second quarter to give Mission Viejo a 10-7 lead.

Contact the writer: sfryer@ocregister.com


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