Story and photos: Steve Marcotte/ OsideNews
Oceanside CA— The Oceanside Pirates took on North County powerhouse Mission Hills High School, Friday night and advance to the CIF San Diego Sector, Open Division, Championship game next week with a 38-31 come from behind victory.
The Mission Hills Grizzlies, opened the scoring as Martrel Holmes received Oceanside’s first punt of the game at the 18 yard line. Holmes cut to his right and a great block by Ryan Huerta on Oceanside’s Zavier Brown cleared the way for Holmes to sprint down the right sideline for 82 yards and a touchdown. 7-0 after the PAT, 9:03 left in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Oceanside was able to mount a drive and looked like they were threatening to score when, on third down, a miss communication between center and QB sent the ball past Romero. Romero was able to recover the football setting up a 34 yard field goal attempt by Caleb Ramirez that careened off the right upright. A second Oceanside drive stalled, the FG attempt was wide left and Mission Hills took over on downs.
The Grizzlies drove the length of the field setting up their second touchdown of the night. Grizzlies QB Dakota Miller found himself in trouble in the backfield, scrambled to his right and hit Martrel Holmes in the right corner of the end-zone giving the Mission Hills team a 14-0 lead with 3:20 left in the half.
What had been a defensive battle for most of the first half, the game suddenly turned into a score-fest with just 3:20 remaining in the second quarter.
Oceanside took the ensuing kick off and marched 80 yards in 6 plays capped by a 2 yard run up the middle by Josh Bernard. That cut Mission Hills lead to 7, 14-7 with 2:05 left in the half.
Not to be out done, Mission Hills then took the next possession 60 yards on 6 plays with Grizzly standouts Martrel Holmes, Dechaun Holiday and Dakota Miller putting on a show. The drive ended with a Miller scramble and score. 21-7 Mission Hills with 1:07 left in the half.
Undaunted, Oceanside got the ball back on their twenty yard-line, after the touch-back, and the Pirate offense put on a show of their own. In what looked like a clock management clinic, Oceanside Quarterback Matt Romero engineered an 80 yard, 10 play scoring drive capped by a 14 yard Romero to Arzola touchdown pass with 2.6 seconds left in the half cutting the lead back to 7, 21-14 at intermission.
The fireworks continued in the second half. Mission Hills received the kick to open the second half and took the ball 80 yards in three plays. On third and 10 from their own 20, Dakota Miller found a wide open Troy Warner who sprinted 80 yards for the touchdown extending the lead to 28-14 with 10:24 left in the third period.
Oceanside took the next possession 80 yards with two long receptions by Isaia Paopao, the second looked like he was able to reach for the score but was ruled down at the two yard line. That set up a 2 yard dive over the top by Josh Bernard cutting the lead to 28-21 with 8:05 left in the third period.
It was then you could feel the momentum swinging over to the Oceanside team. The Pirate defense held the Grizzlies to a third and long. Dakota Miller scrambled to his left and threw to an open Troy Warner but Warner lost his footing when he tried to make a cut to the ball and the pass landed incomplete.
A Mission Hills coach was telling his offensive players, as they went back to the bench, “You guys are missing assignments, you’re not following through. Now Oceanside’s got the ball back and they’re going to score again.”
His words proved to be prophetic as Romero hit John Grumbling in the left corner of the end-zone to tie the score at 28 all.
Oceanside took their first lead of the game after Josh Bernard intercepted an ill-advised pass by Dakota Miller at the Grizzlies 40 yard line. Five plays later it was Bernard again as he hit Malavai Taylor in the right corner of the end-zone on an option pass, 28-35 with 35 seconds left in the third quarter.
The two teams traded field goals in the fourth quarter and an interception in the end-zone by Isaia Paopao sealed the win for the Pirates. and a trip to Southwestern College for the championship game against Helix.
After the game, Coach John Carroll kept looking back at the score board as he told his team how proud he was of them. “I’m so proud of you guys. You were down. You scored three or four unanswered touchdowns and you didn’t quit and guess what? It’s Helix we’re playing and that’s how it should be.” continued Carroll “You guys earned this championship game.”
Oceanside (12-0) will play 3rd seed Helix (10-2) for the title which is being held at Southwestern College instead of the “Q” this year due to a scheduling conflict.
In other playoff action; El Camino’s impressive playoff run came to an end at St Augustine 14-7 on Friday night. The Wildcats fell behind 14-0 but came back on a 2 yard touchdown run by El Camino QB, Beau Gallegos. The Wildcats were driving to force the game into overtime when Gallegos pass was picked off in the end-zone.
La Costa Canyon dropped in their semi-final match-up to Madison 49-34.
San Marcos fell to Rancho Bernardo 42-10.