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No. 1 Mission Viejo dominates No. 2 El Toro
MISSION VIEJO - The anticipated offensive showdown between No. 1 Mission Viejo and No. 2 El Toro took a back seat to a defensive clinic Friday.
Mission Viejo's active defense handed out the lesson as the Diablos made their case for the No. 1 seed in the Pac-5 Division playoffs.
Mission Viejo intercepted reigning Register offensive player of the year Conner Manning six times en route to a 49-7 victory that sealed the South Coast League title in front an estimated 8,500 at Mission Viejo.
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Manning entered the duel of undefeated teams with only three interceptions but Mission Viejo (10-0, 4-0) doubled that and turned four of its picks into 28 points.
El Toro's high-tempo, no-huddle offense fell well below its season average of 47 points per game.
"We worked all week on this offense ... and it paid off," said Mission Viejo strong safety Hunter Remingï¸ ton, who intercepted Manning three times, including one for a 31-yard TD return in the fourth quarter.
Remington, a junior, said the Diablos played man defense against receivers for the first time this season. Mission Viejo also rushed only three linemen at times on third down but still sacked Manning three times and pressured him throughout.
The Diablos limited the Utah-commit to 22 completions on 46 passes (48 percent).
"Great athletes," El Toro coach Robert Frith said of Mission Viejo's defense. "(Mission Viejo defensive coordinator Brett) Paton put together a great game plan. ... Conner was under duress much of the game."
Mission Viejo also got interceptions from Sean Modster and linebackers Zack Holland and Steven Macke.
Garrett Marino led Mission Viejo's defensive line with two sacks and added a 22-yard touchdown run and a third-and-2 play in the fourth quarter.
The Diablos' offense also shined.
Mission Viejo nearly hit its season average of 49.5 points. Running back Alex Suchesk rushed for 129 yards, while quarterback Ian Fieber passed for 273 yards and three TDs.
The Diablos rushed for 196 yards to finish with 468 yards offense.
El Toro (9-1, 3-1), ranked sixth in the Pac-5, lost standout running back Jacob Furnari the first time he touched the ball. The senior suffered an arm injury returning a kickoff after Mission Viejo scored with 4:48 left in the first quarter.
Frith said Furnari is questionable for the playoffs.
El Toro's defense forced four turnovers and also sacked Fieber six times as it attempted to capture its first South Coast League title since 1986.
The Chargers' Bryan Chinchilla had two interceptions while Sam Travis added 2 1/2 sacks.
Junior Jacob Frigger replaced Furnari and rushed for 74 yards on 18 carries. He gained 64 yards in the first half.
Mission Viejo led, 21-7, after a wild first half.
The Diablos answered El Toro's lone score with a ï€¸48-yard touchdown pass by Fieber to Max Redfield with 3:23 left in the second quarter. The connection gave Mission Viejo a 21-7 lead and arrived coming out of a timeout by the Diablos.
On the score, Fieber rolled to his right and found Redfield in stride deep down the field.
Redfield, a USC commit, also blocked a punt in the third quarter that the Diablos recovered at the El Toro 27. The Chargers' defense held.
Each defense forced three turnovers apiece in the first quarter.
Mission Viejo's offense was the only side to turn the turnovers into points. Modster intercepted a pass that gave the Diablos the ball at their 15 early in the first quarter. His 19-yard touchdown reception over the middle about six minutes later capped the drive and gave Mission Viejo a 7-0 lead.
Mission Viejo kept the drive alive with a fake punt and run by Daniel Marx.
The Diablos intercepted Manning on El Toro's first play from scrimmage. After the Chargers' Evan Acker recovered a fumble at the Mission Viejo 27 about one minute into the game, Modtser grabbed the Diablos' first interception.
Remington intercepted Manning in the end zone on the Chargers' second possession and grabbed another one at his 1 with 14 seconds left in the first quarter.
Mission Viejo, ranked second to St. Bonaventure of Ventura in the Pac-5 Division, and El Toro will learn their playoff draws Sunday.