Late third quarter surge helps Diablos pull away from Highlanders
By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal
The La Habra high football team played it even with No. 2 Mission Viejo for about two and a half quarters Friday night, but the Diablos ended the third with three unanswered scores to break the game open and held on for the 42-27 win at La Habra.
La Habra began the third quarter impressively on both sides of the ball to bring the score to 14-13.
The defense forced a quick punt on Mission Viejo’s opening drive, then quarterback Zack Fogel completed two consecutive passes to Mitchell Anderson for 50 yards, capped by a 20-yard touchdown.
Mission Viejo (3-0) answered with a 25-yard touchdown run by Akili Arnold.
The Diablos capitalized on a Fogel interception and partially blocked punt out of the end zone that set them up with a short field on their next two possessions.
Before the end of the quarter, the Highlanders found themselves looking up at a 35-13 deficit. Mission Viejo added one more early in the fourth.
“Their defense made a lot of really good adjustments to what we were doing,” Fogel said. “That [time-frame] right there late in the third wasn’t good for us and they took advantage of it.”
“[Fogel] struggled to throw the ball tonight,” Mazzotta said. “He does a lot of good things though, made a lot of good reads and runs and stuff like that.”
Arnold was thrust into action midway through the first quarter after starting running back Jamari Ferrell suffered a serious leg injury. The junior responded with career highs in yards (151) and touchdowns (3).
The Highlanders didn’t go quietly. Fogel connected with on two fourth quarter touchdown passes to Deavyn Woullard.
The Highlanders refusal to go away coupled with the second unit’s inability to move the ball, prompted Mission Viejo coach Bob Johnson to insert his first unit back into action with about two minutes to play after sitting for half of the quarter.
The move proved to be a costly decision. On the first play back in the game, starting left guard Chuck Redman suffered an apparent knee injury and had to be carted off the field.
Skyler Taylor carried the ball 17 times for 96 yards for the Highlanders, and with his first quarter touchdown has now scored in each of the Highlanders first three games.
Fogel finished with 142 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Woullard had 59 yards receiving with two touchdowns.
Mission Viejo quarterback Joey Yellen threw for 206 yards and two scores.
Penalties were an issue for the Highlanders all night. They were hit with 12 flags, five of them for pass interference.
“They don’t need help,” Mazzotta said. “I mean bless, good teams don’t need to keep drives alive with that many penalties.”
Mission Viejo has another tough game ahead of them next week when they play Long Beach Poly. Both teams are ranked in the top-10 in the State.
The No. 9 Highlanders (1-2) will try to bounce back next Friday against Oak Grove (0-2) of San Jose at The Pit.