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KEVIN SULLIVAN, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Mission Viejo quarterback Ian Fieber is sacked by Long Beach Poly's Joseph Wicker during the first half of their playoff football game in Mission Viejo Friday night.

Mission Viejo title hopes derailed by LB Poly

OCVARSIT Y.COM

MISSION VIEJO - When it was over, Mission Viejo coach Bob Johnson gave a long hug to a sobbing Max Redfield before patting the senior with the never-say-die attitude on the shoulder pad.

Letting go of a promising season was tough for the top-ranked Diablos, but it became necessary after Long Beach Poly and its defense dealt host Mission Viejo a 21-16 defeat in a CIF-SS Pac-5 Division second-round game Friday.

"Fantastic year for us. It just ended sour for us," Johnson said. "We always expect to win."

Long Beach Poly (9-3) not only handed the second-seeded Diablos (11-1) their first loss but beat Mission Viejo for the first time since their public-school rivalry heated up in 2003. Mission Viejo had been 4-0 against the Jackrabbits starting with the 2003 game.

Long Beach Poly plays Trinity League champion St. John Bosco of Bellflower, a 24-17 winner against Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks, in the semifinals.

The Jackrabbits sealed the victory with their defense, which was fitting because the unit held down the high-powered Diablos' offense.

Mission Viejo got the ball for the final time at its 32 with 5:29 left and one timeout to use. The Diablos drove as far as the Long Beach Poly 22 with 1:14 left but burned their final timeout after a first-down sack by Roman Wiant sent quarterback Ian Fieber to the turf at the 34.

Long Beach Poly then forced an incompletion in the end zone, held on a 4-yard gain on a pass and forced another incompletion in the end zone with four seconds left.

Mission Viejo trimmed its deficit to 21-16 with 8:02 left in the fourth on a 1-yard TD run by Alex Suchesk.

Long Beach Poly stopped the 2-point attempt, and the Diablos finished 32 points below their season average for points.

"Our defense won the game for us," Long Beach Poly coach Raul Lara said.

The Jackrabbits focused on stopping Mission Viejo's ground attack, and they succeeded by limiting the Diablos to 24 yards.

Mission Viejo played without left tackle Erik Bunte (ankle).

Long Beach Poly also forced two turnovers, one of which led to a touchdown, and didn't commit a turnover.

Long Beach Poly opened a 21-10 lead with 6:41 left in the third quarter on a 1-yard TD run by Gerard Wicks. The score capped a 30-yard drive that was set up by a 33-yard punt return by John Smith and personal foul on the tackle.

Mission Viejo trimmed Long Beach Poly's lead to 14-10 at halftime on a 42-yard field goal by Zach Olson, whose kick narrowly cleared the uprights with 15 seconds left in the second quarter.

Long Beach Poly's ground attack of Manusamoa Luuga and Wicks was strong in the first half, racking up 164 yards and two TDs. The duo finished with 197 yards.

Wicks, a Washington State commit, capped a game-opening, nine-play, 96-yard drive with a 4-yard TD run.

Mission Viejo responded with a seven-play, 76-yard scoring drive to knot the score, 7-7, with 5:32 left in the opening quarter. Suchesk capped the drive with an 11-yard TD run.

Long Beach Poly forced the only turnover of the first half, recovering a fumble at the Mission Viejo 18 with 7:53 left in the second quarter. Three plays later, Luuga scored on a 2-yard run as the Jackrabbits opened a 14-7 lead.


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