Cougars upset Highlanders in first round
By Sarah Fenton
La Habra Journal
La Habra’s playoff-run was cut short after a tough first round loss to Capistrano Valley, 44-42, at home Friday night.
The Highlanders (7-4) led 28-21 going into halftime and started the second half by returning the kickoff for a touchdown, but the Cougars (8-3) added on 20-points in the fourth quarter to regain the lead and secure the win.
“I think we got outplayed a little bit tonight but that’s the nature of the playoffs, they’re all good teams,” Mazzotta said.
Capistrano Valley started the game on top with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Gavin Pruett to Trevor Wise.
Minutes later, La Habra’s Eric Barriere faked a handoff to Carlos Martin and ran the ball in to tie the game at seven.
With under five minutes remaining in the first quarter, Martin ran 15-yards into the end zone to give the Highlanders the lead, 14-7.
At the end of the first quarter, Capistrano Valley recovered a La Habra fumble and scored shortly after off a touchdown pass from Pruett to Adam Gordon to tie the game at 14.
The game remained tied going into the second quarter.
La Habra’s defense held the Cougars until Jordan Bocko scored off an 18-yard run for Capistrano Valley to tie the game at 21 with less than four minutes remaining in the second quarter.
The Highlanders regained the lead at the end of the first half when Barriere scored off a 13-yard run. La Habra led 28-21 going into halftime.
La Habra advanced its score to a two-touchdown lead when Eric Lancaster-Garcia ran the second half kickoff back 96-yards into the end zone.
The Cougars added three points to their score when Gordon kicked a 27-yard field goal, but still trailed La Habra, 35-24, going into the fourth quarter.
Seconds into the fourth quarter, Bocko scored off a touchdown run for the Cougars and added on a two-point conversion to make it a three-point game.
The Cougars regained the lead, 39-35, with a 28-yard touchdown pass from Pruett to Gordon.
Under pressure, Barriere was sacked in the end zone giving the Cougars another two-points to add to their lead.
La Habra made its way down the field and regained momentum when Barriere connected a touchdown pass to Edrick Flores with 42 seconds remaining in the game.
Trailing by two, the Highlanders couldn’t recover the onside kick and fell to the Cougars, 44-42.
The Highlanders went undefeated in the Freeway league, which advanced their record to 40 consecutive league wins, and clinched their eighth consecutive league title.
“I’m proud of the guys because nobody thought we’d even be league champions,” Mazzotta said. “The word around town was that this was the year to get La Habra in the Freeway league. The kids didn’t and we got better and better.”