GARDEN GROVE — For the second week in a row, the Costa Mesa High football team woke up in the second half against a team ranked in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division.
For the second week in a row, it came just a little bit too late.
Down by 20 points in the third quarter Friday night at Bolsa Grande High, the Mustangs responded with a pair of touchdowns. They were driving in the final minutes, too, for a potential stunning victory.
But Los Amigos intercepted a deflected pass in the middle of the field with 59 seconds left to play, helping the Lobos hang on for a 20-14 nonleague win.
Costa Mesa (1-3) again played without senior standouts Oronde Crenshaw (right ankle/foot injuries) and Quinton Bell (hip flexor). What the Mustangs did play with late in the game was a sense of purpose against Los Amigos (2-1), ranked No. 8 in the Southern Division.
"Right now, it's our youth," Costa Mesa Coach Wally Grant said. "It's just taking them a little while to figure out that these guys they're playing against aren't so big, fast and strong. They're every bit as big, fast and strong. It takes them a couple of series to figure out that they belong on this field, [but] we're going to be all right. I'm proud of what we did.
"This is two weeks in a row, same story just a different week. We didn't play well in the first half, and all of a sudden we come out in the second half and it doesn't look like the same team. I know it's there. I've just got to figure out how to get 48 minutes and not 24."
Los Amigos looked like it was headed to an easy victory in the third quarter, when quarterback Anthony Magana hit Alexis Ocegueda on a 52-yard touchdown pass to push the Lobos' lead to 20-0. But the Mustangs responded, first on Oliver Ferris' 38-yard touchdown pass to Kage Kistler, then on Ferris' 16-yard touchdown scramble with 9:02 left in the game.
Both plays came on fourth down, but Mesa would take them. Los Amigos responded with a nine-play drive to the Mustangs' 19-yard line, calling timeout on fourth-and-two. But fullback Alonzo Montes De Oca's run was inches short of the first-down marker, giving Mesa the ball back with about four minutes left.
The Mustangs were able to get three first downs on the ensuing drive, two on catches by tight end Joseph Quiroz and one on a run by Jason Garcia that got the ball to midfield.
But, on second-and-10, the pass into traffic was deflected and then intercepted by Los Amigos' Alexis Coronado. It sealed the second straight tough loss for Mesa, which lost to Katella, ranked No. 4 in the Southern Division, by a 21-16 count last week.
Quiroz had a monster game overall for the Mustangs. He had three quarterback sacks, at least two tackles for no gain and also blocked an extra point.
Daniel Lawrence recovered two fumbles for Costa Mesa, which plays Savanna in its final nonleague game on Sept. 27 at Glover Stadium.
"I'm not big on moral victories," Grant said. "When it's all said and done, the kids know that they're 1-3 and not 4-0. What I do take solace in is that the kids are growing. We were down 20-0 at one point, and there's no quit in this team. That right there, I'm extremely proud of. That's a lot to build on."
Los Amigos 20, Costa Mesa 14
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Costa Mesa 0 – 0 – 7 – 7 — 14
Los Amigos 7 – 6 – 7 – 0 — 20
LA – Magana 1 run (Valdez kick), 3:28.
LA – Montes De Oca 1 run (kick blocked), 9:45.
LA – Ocegueda 52 pass from Magana (Valdez kick), 4:10.
CM – Kistler 38 pass from Ferris (Curet kick), 2:09.
CM – Ferris 16 run (Curet kick), 9:02.
CM – Garcia, 29-95.
LA – Olvera, 14-78.
CM – Ferris, 7-17-2, 105, 1 TD.
LA – Magana, 10-15-0, 129, 1 TD.
CM – Kistler, 1-38, 1 TD; Quiroz, 4-35; Lawrence, 2-32.
LA – Ocegueda, 4-72, 1 TD.