LAGUNA BEACH — The Costa Mesa High Mustangs ventured to Guyer Field Friday with a single goal in mind — to win an outright Orange Coast League football championship.
Blending a determined focus with a quick start that overwhelmed Laguna Beach, the Mustangs accomplished their mission.
Costa Mesa can call itself the 2013 OCL champion. The Mustangs captured their first league title in five years by running past the Breakers, 56-30.
The triumph is the sixth straight win for Costa Mesa, which finished league play with a perfect, 5-0 mark. It also gave more steam to a team, ranked eighth in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division, that has been on a steady roll over the final month of the regular season.
How does league champion sound to Coach Wally Grant?
"Great," he said, moments after the game. "This is what we've been working for all year, off-season, on-season, every day. It's been our goal from the start and to win this, feels really great.
"I thought we came out here tonight and set the tone early. We got the early lead and knew that when we got up, our job was to close it out. [The Breakers] can sure light up a scoreboard, and we wanted to make sure we worked the clock."
The Mustangs really didn't milk the clock, as they scored with ease early and had a four-touchdown lead two minutes into the second quarter.
Once again, senior tailback Oronde Crenshaw turned in a spectacular performance. One week after going for a career-high 377 yards in a 58-41 win over Calvary Chapel, he went around right end, left end, and just about every way possible, to run his way to 250 yards, five touchdowns on 20 carries.
Crenshaw scored the first three touchdowns of the game. The Mustangs took the opening kickoff and went in for their first score. The big play on an eight-play, 71-yard drive was a 46-yard pass from quarterback Oliver Ferris to Quinton Bell. The senior wide receiver made the catch at the Laguna 42 and took off downfield before being dragged down at the seven. Three plays later, Crenshaw cruised around right end on a 10-yard scoring run. Cameron Curet's first of eight conversion kicks put Costa Mesa up 7-0 with 7:44 left in the opening quarter.
The Mustangs got the ball back three minutes later when Bell hit Laguna quarterback Jack Simon as the sophomore went back to pass, knocked the ball loose and defensive end Edgar Molina pounced on the loose ball at the Laguna 42. Two plays later, Crenshaw again bolted around the right side and this time, scored from 19 yards out for a 14-0 lead.
The Costa Mesa defense held Laguna's offense in check on the Breakers' next two possessions, forcing a pair of three-and-out situations. Between those series, the Mustangs scored two more times.
First, they needed only four plays to reach the end zone and go up, 21-0. Starting from their own 25, the Mustangs reached the Laguna 30 when junior fullback Will Padilla rolled to his left for a 26-yard gain. The run set up the third touchdown of the quarter for Crenshaw, who took off down the Costa Mesa sideline on a 30-yard scoring run with 25 seconds left in the quarter.
Early in the second quarter, the Mustangs needed only three plays and one minute to get on the scoreboard again. A 30-yard run by Crenshaw on first down took the ball out to the Laguna 39. From there, Ferris teamed up with Bell on a 39-yard touchdown pass to make it 28-0 with 9:54 remaining in the half.
Laguna responded on its next series as Nathan Lancaster, who last week became the all-time career rushing leader at the school, rambled his way for a 73-yard touchdown run. Costa Mesa, however, again struck quickly with another three-play scoring drive set up by a 50-yard kickoff return by Crenshaw. On second down, Ferris threw downfield and senior tight end Joseph Quiroz made a great catch between two defenders at the one. Padilla scored on a one-yard plunge, and the Mustangs went into halftime holding a 35-6 lead.
"We did a lot of good things in the first half," Grant said. "We controlled the line of scrimmage and I thought our defense did a real good job containing their offense. All that helped us take control."
By halftime, Crenshaw had 146 yards and three TDs on only 12 carries. He also completed a 22-yard pass to Bell on the final play of the first half.
Ferris was perfect in the half, hitting all seven of his passes for 159 yards. He went on to finished nine of 11 for 237 yards with the touchdown pass to Bell, who had had all 120 of his yards for the game (on four receptions) by the half.
The teams traded quick scores to start the second half. Lancaster returned the second-half kickoff 35 yards to the Costa Mesa 41, and later scored on a 25-yard run. He then took in a two-point pass from Simon to make it 35-14. On the conversion pass, Lancaster set the Laguna single-season scoring record.
The Breakers (5-5, 2-3) had little time to celebrate. On the first play from scrimmage following Lancaster's run, Crenshaw answered with a 74-yard touchdown run to take the lead to 42-14. With 1:27 left in the quarter, he raced around left end to score on a 17-yard run on a fourth-and-two play.
With the Mustangs leading, 49-14, through three quarters, the game went to a running clock for the fourth quarter.
Mataafa Mason closed out the scoring for Costa Mesa when he sprinted 14 yards to the end zone to make it 56-14 with 10:29 to play.
The CIF playoff pairings will be released Sunday. As a league champion, Costa Mesa will play host to a first-round game Nov. 15.
"We've been getting better every week and the good thing is, we got healthy when league started. We still haven't hit our potential, though. We have yet to play a complete, 48 minutes."
Costa Mesa's performance impressed Laguna Coach Corey Brown.
"That's a good football team," Brown said. "They came in here and did a great job tonight. They deserve to be league champs. I only wish them the best in the playoffs. I hope they do a great job and represent our league well."
Costa Mesa 56, Laguna Beach 30
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Mesa 21 – 14 – 14 – 7 — 56
Laguna 0 – 6 – 8 – 16 — 30
CM - Crenshaw 10 run (Curet kick), 7:44.
CM - Crenshaw 19 run (Curet kick), 4:33.
CM - Crenshaw 30 run (Curet kick), 00:25.
CM - Bell 39 pass from Ferris (Curet kick), 9:54.
LB – Lancaster 73 run (kick failed), 8:32.
CM – Padilla 1 run (Curet kick), 7:43.
LB – Lancaster 25 run (Lancaster pass from Simon), 10:37.
CM – Crenshaw 64 run (Curet kick), 10:18.
CM - Crenshaw 17 run (Curet kick), 1:27.
CM - Mason 14 run (Curet kick), 10:29.
LB – Lancaster 43 run (Lancaster run), 9:06.
LB – Hampton 76 pass from Simon (Lancaster run), 3:38.
CM – Crenshaw 20-250, 5 TDs.
LB – Lancaster, 20-204, 3 TDs.
CM – Ferris, 9-11-0, 237, 1 TD.
LB – Simon, 2-9-0, 86.
CM – Bell, 4-120, 1 TD.
LB – Hampton, 1-76.