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Costa Mesa football stays alive in playoff hunt with win over Saddleback

Costa Mesa's Kobe Lemari runs up field against Saddleback during an Orange Coast League game at Segerstrom High.
Costa Mesa’s Kobe Lemari runs up field against Saddleback during an Orange Coast League game at Segerstrom High School on Thursday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

The Costa Mesa High School football team got a critical win Thursday night to keep its playoff hopes alive.

Garrett Richards threw for 359 yards and five touchdowns, as the visiting Mustangs defeated Saddleback 56-0 in an Orange Coast League game at Segerstrom High School.

With back-to-back wins for the second time this season, Costa Mesa (4-4, 2-1) now has multiple victories in league play in the same season for the first time since 2013. The Mustangs were the undefeated Orange Coast League champions that year.

Costa Mesa travels to take on Santa Ana (5-1, 2-0) next week, before playing host to Estancia (4-3, 1-1) in the Battle for the Bell rivalry game in the regular season finale.

Costa Mesa's John Simco runs under pressure from Saddleback's Isaias Ramirez during an Orange Coast League game on Thursday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

“To have a shutout is big time,” Costa Mesa coach Van Tuinei said. “To get 56 points, we needed that for our offense to get that confidence, especially going against Santa Ana next week and then finishing up against Estancia. I think it’s going to come down to Estancia. We all do.

“I think that’s the third-place [game]. We’re looking at a playoff bid. I think we can make it happen.”

Kobe Lemari left his imprint on the game right away. He had two rushing touchdowns and an interception return for another score to give the Mustangs a 21-0 lead two minutes into the second quarter.

“I would like to thank my [offensive] line because they’re the ones working hard and making a way for me to run through to get more yards and get a touchdown, to make this team a better team,” said Lemari, who had 145 rushing yards.

Costa Mesa's Kobe Lemari raises a hand in celebration as he crosses the goal line against Saddleback.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

From there, the Mustangs opened the passing game, with Richards connecting with Riley Weinstein for scoring strikes of seven yards and 77 yards before the half. Weinstein finished with four catches for 122 yards. Most of those grabs were contested, including one in which he caught his own bobble while going to the ground.

“Riley Weinstein is just an easy target,” Richards said. “I mean, he’s 6-6, super-fast, always comes down with the ball whenever I throw it up. [He] wins the 50-50 ball every time.”

Richards needed just 13 passing attempts to surpass 300 passing yards for the game. He completed 12 of 15 attempts, and he threw completions on his last nine passes.

Costa Mesa's Garrett Richards throws a ball during an Orange Coast League game versus Saddleback on Thursday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Adelfo Bahena had two catches for 90 yards and a touchdown. Christian Beatty and John Simco had a receiving touchdown apiece.

Costa Mesa got interceptions from Beatty, Lemari and Weinstein.

Isaac Amaya and Carlos Caro recovered fumbles for Saddleback (3-5, 0-3).

Costa Mesa's Christian Beatty intercepts a pass intended for Saddleback's Isaias Ramirez on Thursday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Orange Coast League

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Costa Mesa 21 – 14 – 14 – 7 – 56

Saddleback 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0

FIRST QUARTER

CM – Lemari 13 run (Bahena kick), 6:36.

CM – Lemari 18 interception return (Bahena kick), 5:54.

SECOND QUARTER

CM – Lemari 4 run (Bahena kick), 9:49.

CM – Weinstein 7 pass from Richards (Bahena kick), 2:55.

CM – Weinstein 77 pass from Richards (Bahena kick), 0:37.

THIRD QUARTER

CM – Beatty 27 pass from Richards (Bahena kick), 6:05.

CM – Bahena 55 pass from Richards (Bahena kick), 4:42.

FOURTH QUARTER

CM – Simco 16 pass from Richards (Bahena kick), 11:52.

INDIVIDUAL RUSHING

CM – Lemari, 22-145, 2 TDs; Simco, 8-44.

S – Marquez, 4-19.

INDIVIDUAL PASSING

CM – Richards, 12-15-0, 359, 5 TDs.

S – Marquez, 6-21-3, 34.

INDIVIDUAL RECEIVING

CM – Weinstein, 4-122, 2 TDs; Bahena, 2-90, 1 TD; Beatty, 2-59, 1 TD.

S – Lopez, 2-20.

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