It all looked so good for so long for Dana Hills High School Friday night. The Dolphins had Capistrano Valley, the South Coast League co-leader, stopped cold and they held a six-point lead.
Dana Hills had neutralized Capistrano Valley's passing game, bottled up the ground game and appeared headed for an upset.
But then the fourth quarter started and Capistrano Valley finally started moving the ball and went on to a 14-6 victory in front of 3,500 at Dana Hills.
The victory sets up a showdown with El Toro for the league championship next Friday at Capistrano Valley. Each team is 9-0 overall and 4-0 in league play. Dana Hills, which falls to 6-3, 2-2, is tied for second with Mission Viejo. The Dolphins play Irvine next week.
Trailing, 6-0, late in the third quarter, Capistrano Valley started a drive at its own 46-yard line. Really, there wasn't much reason to be excited about that. The Cougars had had good field position all game, but thanks to the Dana Hills' defense, had trouble going anywhere.
But this time, the Cougars put it all together. An 18-yard completion from quarterback Tony Solliday to receiver Dave Poltl gave Capistrano Valley a first and goal at the s' six.
Three plays gained nothing, but on fourth down, Solliday found Poltl for a touchdown. Tomeck Mickler's kick proved to be the winning point.
Capistrano Valley scored again on its next series, when running back Chris Adams went around right end for a 12-yard touchdown run with 4:01 left.
Dana Hills quarterback Grant Taylor then threw an interception that killed one drive and reserve quarterback Albie Sukut threw another one in the final minute, ending the Dolphins' last hopes.
Capistrano Valley, second-ranked in the Orange County Sportswriters' Assn. poll behind El Toro, won, but survived might be a better word.
Dana Hills' defense accounted for most of the Cougars' troubles. The Dolphins limited Paul Shaheen, who entered the game averaging 102 yards, to a meager 26 yards in 15 carries. Adams, the No. 2 back, fared better, gaining 66 in 13 carries, all in the second half.
Solliday threw for 174 yards, completing nine of 18, but he was seldom able to come up with a big play. The big exceptions came on the first scoring drive, and that proved to be enough.