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Joseph Hernandez throws game-winning touchdown to lift Los Amigos football past Costa Mesa

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Los Amigos coach Maopu Tuato addresses his team after its 27-21 nonleague victory against Costa Mesa on Friday at Garden Grove High.
(Anthony Ciardelli)

After Friday’s 27-21 nonleague victory over Costa Mesa High, it’s a wonder Los Amigos’ players hadn’t chewed the nails entirely off their fingers.

After carrying a 21-7 lead through half of the fourth quarter, the host Lobos fended off a 14-point comeback to secure their second win of the football season at Garden Grove High.

Lobos quarterback Joseph Hernandez engineered the game-winning drive, capping it off with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Adolfo Chavez with 44 seconds left in the game. That was the exclamation point on a night where he completed 11 of 27 passes for 217 yards and a touchdown. He also threw one interception.

Hernandez said he used what he perceived as a lack of respect for his team from the media.

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“I wasn’t going to let people doubt us like that,” he said. “It motivated me. I’m speechless. I’m so happy the way things turned out.”

The Lobos (2-2) also benefitted from a strong game by running back Pablo Madriz, who ran for 170 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries.

Costa Mesa quarterback Nick Burton completed 10 of 30 passes for 147 yards, one passing touchdown and one rushing touchdown. He threw two interceptions.

Costa Mesa coach Jimmy Nolan saw his team claw back from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter only to come up short of its third win.

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“They never quit, and that’s all they care about,” he said. “The fact that we didn’t lay down, I’m proud of them, but right now in the moment, I’m upset because there were so many little things. We could’ve won that game.”

The Lobos utilized a shovel pass continuously throughout the game to march down the field on Costa Mesa (2-2), a fact not lost on Nolan.

“That exposed us,” he said. “We’re soft. For me to call my own team soft, that’s terrible, but I gotta call it like I see it.”

At the start, the game looked like it would be all Los Amigos as Costa Mesa struggled to muster any offense.

The Lobos opened the scoring in the second quarter on back-to-back drives, converting Madriz touchdown runs from six yards and four yards, respectively.

Costa Mesa found a spark to close out the first half when Burton tossed a 10-yard pass from inside his 20-yard line that found Bengie Mendez. Mendez then lateraled the ball to Bryan Hernandez, who ran 70 yards for the touchdown to make the score 14-7 after the extra point. Hernandez rushed 19 times for 127 yards.

The Lobos then drove 86 yards behind punishing runs by Madriz and Carlos Vargas, before Vargas converted a five-yard touchdown run to give Los Amigos a 21-7 lead after the extra point.

The game felt out of reach, but Costa Mesa stormed back.

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First, Burton threw an 80-yard touchdown to Alex Jennis, and then he rushed for a 10-yard touchdown to tie the score. Both touchdowns resulted from drives started by big defensive plays by cornerback Leo Cristobal, who intercepted a Lobos pass in the end zone and then recovered a fumble on the Lobos’ next drive.

However, with the score tied at 21-21, Joseph Hernandez found his game. He completed six passes, driving his team 62 yards before connecting with Chavez for the game-winning touchdown. Chavez finished with five catches for 114 yards.

Los Amigos coach Maopu Tuato was thrilled to see his sophomore quarterback thrive in a clutch situation.

“I’ve never met a more seasoned young man in my life,” he said. “He’s got ice in his veins. He takes a while to warm up, but once he gets in a rhythm, he’s money.”

Nonleague

Los Amigos 27, Costa Mesa 21

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Costa Mesa 0 – 7 – 0 – 14 — 21

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Los Amigos 0 – 14 – 7 – 6 — 27

SECOND QUARTER

LA – Madriz 6 run (Barriga kick), 9:06.

LA – Madriz 4 run (Barriga kick), 5:33.

CM – B. Hernandez 70 run (Paxson kick) :57.

THIRD QUARTER

LA – Vargas 5 run (Barriga kick), 1:12.

FOURTH QUARTER

CM – Jennis 80 pass from Burton (Paxson kick), 6:53.

CM – Burton 10 run (Paxson kick), 5:05.

LA – Chavez 21 pass from J. Hernandez (kick failed), :44.

INDIVIDUAL RUSHING

LA – Madriz, 29-170, 2 TDs.

CM – B. Hernandez, 19-127, 1 TD.

INDIVIDUAL PASSING

LA – J. Hernandez, 11-27-1, 217, 1 TD.

CM – Burton, 10-30-2, 147, 1 TD.

INDIVIDUAL RECEIVING

LA – Chavez, 5-114, 1 TD.

CM – Jennis, 5-93, 1 TD.

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