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Streak, season come to stunning end for Mission Viejo
MISSION VIEJO – In quick and stunning fashion, Mission Viejo’s 39-game win streak came to a sudden halt as Rancho Cucamonga turned a strong second half into a date with No. 1 Mater Dei next Friday at Santa Ana Stadium.
Cougars running back Jaylon Redd scored twice within the opening three minutes of the second half to turn a six-point deficit into an eight-point lead.
Rancho Cucamonga, though challenged in the third quarter, never relinquished that lead and ended the Diablos’ streak with a 42-26 win in a CIF-SS Division 1 quarterfinal game at Mission Viejo High.
Rancho Cucamonga entered the game as the No. 4 team in the state. The Diablos were No. 5.
“We had a rough night,” Diablos coach Bob Johnson said. “We have no excuses and we take nothing away from them; it’s just hard to take. We weren’t ourselves in a lot of ways.”
Cougars defensive back Thomas Graham sealed the victory with a 70-yard interception return for a touchdown with 1:32 left as the Diablos were driving near midfield, down by 9.
But the Cougars did most of their damage in the third quarter. With Mission Viejo up 13-0 early, the Cougars scored 28 consecutive points, capped by a 7-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Nick Acosta to Thomas Graham Jr. midway through a 21-point third quarter.
But the Diablos wouldn’t let the streak go quietly. On the next two Mission Viejo possessions, quarterback Matt McDonald hit Austin Osborne for a 52-yard catch and score and followed with a 22-yard TD strike to Olaijah Griffin to end third quarter down 28-26.
Special teams play was the Diablos’ undoing. A high snap on a punt gave Rancho Cucamonga a short field at the Diablos’ 23-yard line, leading to a 1-yard TD plunge by Redd to give Rancho Cucamonga (12-0) a 35-26 lead.
“We just grinded it out,” Cougars coach Nick Baiz said. “I’m just proud of our guys for banging it out. We played a four-quarter game and put it away at the end.”
Redd finished with 147 yards and three TDs on 32 carries. Acosta threw two touchdown passes and finished with 91 yards on 10 of 19 passing.
The Diablos (11-1) seemed poised for a good offensive night early. Colin Schooler took the game’s first play for a 79-yard TD run.
Later in the quarter, Schooler caught a 39-yard TD pass from McDonald, but the extra point was blocked, leaving Mission Viejo with a 13-0 lead.
An interception on a tipped pass by the Cougars’ Samuel Malupo set up Rancho Cucamonga’s first score, a 10-yard TD pass from Acosta to Jaivian Lofton.
Ben Constuble recovered a fumble in the third quarter, leading to Redd’s second touchdown run early in the third quarter. The Cougars also sacked McDonald four times.
Schooler finished with 150 rushing yards and 140 receiving yards. Osborne capped the season with five receptions for 113 yards and McDonald completed 16 of 29 passes for 309 yards.
Chris Mitchell had a sack and a fumble recovery for the Diablos in the first quarter.
“There was a lot of pressure throughout the year,” Johnson said of defending the streak. “It means a lot to all of us, we work hard, but we know when we get beat and we got beat.”
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