All the Mission Viejo football team needed to advance in the Southern Section Division 1 playoffs was a stop from its lauded defense, but it wasn’t as easy as it had been for the Diablos during the regular season.
Servite’s offense was flowing to the tune of 28 second-half points, and instead of a defensive stop, Mission Viejo got an assist from the clock as Servite ran out of time to complete its comeback attempt.
With time winding down in the fourth, the Diablos holding on to a 10-point lead and Servite driving, the Friars scored with 10 seconds left, cutting Mission Viejo’s lead to three.
The ensuing onside kick was recovered by Diablos tight end T.J. Roelen to send Mission Viejo to the Division 1 semifinals with a 38-35 win over Servite.
The fourth-seeded Diablos will host top-seeded Mater Dei next Friday.
The Mission Viejo defense set the tone in the first half.
The Diablos (11-0) forced Servite into a three and out on the first possession of the game, and after just a six-yard punt, Mission Viejo needed only four plays to find the end zone.
After a 26-yard designed quarterback run from Peter Costelli, Jacquez Robertson sneaked between tackles and put the Diablos on the board at the 9:17 mark of the first.
Servite (7-4) managed to give quarterback Noah Fifita some time to operate on its second possession and the sophomore made plays. Fifita connected with Damien Moun for a 21-yard pass and catch, then found Tetairoa McMillan up the left sideline for a 43-yard touchdown to tie the score at seven with 7:14 remaining in the first.
Mission Viejo rebounded on its next possession, orchestrating a 14-play, 65-yard scoring drive complete with some gutsy play calling. The Diablos went for it on fourth and two from the Servite 33-yard line with Robertson picking up 13 yards and a first down.
Three plays later, with Mission’s offense sputtering after a run for no gain and an incomplete pass, another designed quarterback run was called and Costelli picked up 26 more yards, moving the Diablos’ offense to the Servite one-yard line. Tyson Scott scored three plays later from two yards out, giving Mission Viejo a 14-7 lead with 1:10 remaining in the first quarter.
Mission Viejo held Servite to 83 yards through the air and 40 yards rushing in the first half.