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Woodbridge stops Katella's comeback
IRVINE - Woodbridge held off a second-half comeback by Katella to capture a 21-19 victory Friday night in the quarterfinals of the CIF-SS Southern Division playoffs at Irvine High.
The victory sends Woodbridge (7-5) into the semifinals next Friday at Irvine High against Pacific Coast League rival and defending Southern Division champion Corona del Mar.
Woodbridge, which won the coin flip with CdM, will be out to avenge a 33-16 loss to the Sea Kings on Oct. 26.
Katella (9-3) did all it could to end the Warriors’ hopes of advancing to the semifinal round of the playoffs for the first time since 1998.
The Knights called timeout with three seconds left to try and win the game with a field goal.
Kicker Robert Resendez had plenty of distance on his 48-yard field-goal attempt, but the ball sailed just to the left of the goal post as time expired.
“I didn’t think he had a shot, but he hit that ball and, for a second, I was a little worried,” Woodbridge coach Rick Gibson said. “It was long enough, it was just left.
“This puts us where we haven’t been since 1998. The kids played hard and battled. That was a good football team. They came out ready to play.”
Quarterback Matt Callahan led the Warriors, passing for 150 yards and two touchdowns. Tyler Branin was the Warriors’ top receiver with four catches for 86 yards, including a 17-yard TD reception in the second quarter.
David McCutchan had two catches for 24 yards, including a 14-yard TD reception late in the second quarter.
Katella, led by TJ Ashmeade (155 yards, 24 carries), put up a fight in the second half after trailing 21-6 at halftime.
“At halftime, we just talked about adjustments,” Katella coach Fred DiPalma said. “We told them, ‘don’t give up,’ and they didn’t. ..They never gave up. I can’t say enough about this group of kids and this group of seniors.
“Looking at the positive, it was just an awesome season, they exceeded all expectations.”
Woodbridge appeared to be in control in the second half.
But Joseph Inda intercepted a pass at the Katella 24 late in the third quarter. Three plays later, Ashmeade scampered 63 yards for a TD to cut the lead to 21-12.
The Knights trimmed the lead to 21-19 when Resendez connected with James Lawson on a 21-yard TD pass with 11:55 left in the game, putting Katella in a position to win the game with a field goal.