Mesa denied title shot

Laguna Beach's Paul makes difference, as Mustangs lose and won't be winning a league title.

November 05, 2010|By Matt Szabo,

COSTA MESA — Plenty of faces and eyes were red on the Costa Mesa High sideline after the upset loss.

Coach Jeremy Osso's eyes were red, too, so he changed out his contact lenses.

"It's killing me," he said.

But the team that killed the Mustangs' Orange Coast League title chances wore white and maroon.

Laguna Beach shocked Costa Mesa, 21-14, on Friday night at Jim Scott Stadium, ending Mesa's hopes of winning its third league title in four seasons.


The Mustangs (3-6, 2-2 in league) fell to a third-place tie with Calvary Chapel headed into their final game of the season next week against rival Estancia. The top three teams in the league advance to the CIF Southern Section Southern Division playoffs.

Estancia has already clinched a share of the league title, but didn't clinch the outright title Friday because Godinez beat Saddleback. Estancia can do so by winning against Costa Mesa.

But the Battle for the Bell was supposed to be for the Mustangs' share of the league title as well.

"Now we've got to play for our collective lives," Osso said after the Breakers (2-7, 1-3 in league) shocked Costa Mesa by winning their first league game.

Laguna Beach receiver Chris Paul, last year's league MVP, had been out with a separated shoulder. Osso said the Mustangs practiced as if Paul would play.

Good thing, because Paul did, and he burned Mesa in the first half. He caught two touchdown passes from senior quarterback Austin Paxson, each on a slant, as the Breakers took a 21-7 halftime lead. DaSean Grayson had the Mustangs' touchdown, a 41-yard run.

At halftime, Paul already had 128 yards receiving and the two TD catches.

The Mustangs answered right after halftime, when junior Jordan Walden jumped a route, intercepted the ball and took it back 27 yards for a touchdown.

Yet, on four successive drives after that, the Mustangs couldn't score the tying touchdown. Their best chance came on their final drive of the game, after Laguna Beach missed a 25-yard field goal wide right with 2:51 left.

The Mustangs appeared to have a 48-yard pass to a wide-open Trace Curet, but it was negated on a false-start penalty.

"They said that our wide reciever wasn't set, but neither was their tackle," Osso said. "It's how you look at it, I guess. That's a back-breaker. It seemed like every time we got something big, we had a back-breaker. We call those drive-killers, either turnovers or penalties. When you keep your drive-killers down, you win games, and we didn't do that tonight."

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