MISSION VIEJO - Coming out of the locker room at halftime Friday night, Mission Viejo was trailing by one score and had possession of the ball in front of its home crowd.
Even though the second-seeded Diablos trailed, they looked poised for a second-half comeback.
However, Long Beach Poly (9-3) refused to let that comeback happen, forcing a three-and-out and a turnover to start the third quarter and holding on for a 21-16 victory in the second round of the CIF-SS Pac-5 Division playoffs at Mission Viejo High.
“All those things hurt. There’s no doubt about it,” Mission Viejo coach Bob Johnson said after the loss. “A lot of things we’ll play over and over in our mind that really hurt, there’s no doubt.
"Losses like this, you don’t sleep too well for a while (once) it’s over with.”
Diablos kicker Zach Olson hit a 42-yard field goal just before halftime to cut the Long Beach Poly lead to four points.
Any momentum the Diablos (11-1) had to begin the second half was quickly lost. They were forced to punt on their opening drive, and a penalty on the ensuing return gave Long Beach Poly the ball at the Diablos 30-yard-line.
The Jackrabbits used the good field position and a fourth-down conversion to score eight plays later on a 1-yard touchdown run by Gerard Wicks that extended the lead to 21-10.
Despite a fourth-quarter touchdown by Mission Viejo’s Alex Suchesk, turnovers and the Jackrabbits’ defense kept the Diablos from completing the comeback.
“We just didn’t do the right things to win the game,” Johnson said.
The Diablos had beaten the Jackrabbits in all four meetings in the past decade.
At halftime, Long Beach Poly coach Raul Lara reminded his team of those losses.
“Let’s make sure we don’t do that today,” Lara said he told the Jackrabbits.