Mission Viejo High football coach Chad Johnson couldn’t have been happier with his Diablos’ performance considering what the team had dealt with coming into Friday night’s postseason showdown with La Puente Bishop Amat.
“We had a lot of adversity this week,” Johnson said. “We had guys banged up, we had the flu run through our team and had guys throwing up literally on the sideline. It was gross.”
Neither injuries nor the flu could stop Mission Viejo as it defeated the Lancers on their home field, 24-7, to advance in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs.
The No. 14-ranked Diablos will face second-ranked Santa Ana Mater Dei next Friday.
Johnson was quick to credit his defense for the win as it held No. 6 Bishop Amat to nearly 23 points below its season average and allowed just 247 yards of total offense.
“I feel like our pass rush was big tonight,” he said. “We were able to get to the quarterback with our front four, play coverage behind, and not give the quarterback a ton of time.”
One of the most important sequences of the night came in the third quarter after a bad Mission Viejo snap to its punter gave Bishop Amat a first and goal on the eight-yard line.
The Diablos, leading 17-7 with just more than seven minutes to go in the period, stuffed the Lancers’ first run for a four-yard loss and didn’t let up on the next two attempts, forcing Bishop Amat to settle for a 23-yard field-goal attempt, which was missed to the left.
Mission Viejo (6-5) was able to separate itself for good at the end of the third quarter as Joey Yellen connected with JoJo Forest for a 33-yard touchdown with 40 seconds to go.
Yellen was efficient, completing 21 of 31 passes for 300 yards and two touchdowns. Forest finished with six catches for 99 yards.
The Lancers (9-2) got on the board with an impressive 14-play, 72-yard drive culminating in a 13-yard touchdown run from Kenny Collins, cutting the Mission Viejo lead to 10-7 with 3:41 left in the half.
Mission Viejo answered just before halftime with an 11-play, 91-yard scoring drive in which Yellen completed two huge passes on third and long to keep the drive alive.