Friday, December 12, 2008
Laguna Hills rallies for Southern championship
The Hawks come back to beat Mayfair, 28-21.
NORWALK- Top-seeded Laguna Hills faced a two-touchdown deficit early on but rallied in the second half to pull out a 28-21 victory over third-seeded Mayfair of Lakewood in the CIF-SS Southern Division championship game Friday night in front of 7,500 at Cerritos College.
The Hawks (13-0) did it with some trick plays, some huge defensive stops in the fourth quarter and some timely offense.
"This is a team of destiny," said Hawks coach Bruce Ingalls, whose team won its third championship and first since 1997. "We didn't want to leave anything back. You know, we were going to let everything hang out. For sure, we had to do that. We knew this was going to be hard fought. It's just an unbelievable feeling to win a game like this."
Laguna Hills' defense came up with a huge defensive stand that changed the game in the fourth quarter.
With the score tied, 21-21, Mayfair (10-4) drove from its own 14-yard line to Laguna Hills' 32-yard line before facing a fourth-and-1 situation. Everybody knew Mayfair was going for it, and Ronald Kennedy Jr., who finished with 175 yards and one touchdown on 27 carries, was going to get the ball. The Hawks hadn't had much success slowing down the slippery 5-10, 178-pound senior all night.
But on this play, when Kennedy got the ball linebackers Tommy Finley and Matt Giovinazzo burst through the line and stopped him for no gain to get the Monsoons to turn over the ball on downs.
"We had a stop on defense that obviously was huge," Ingalls said. "And then our offense took the ball and just kept it. They've done that on numerous occasions this year. They controlled the ball at the end."
The Hawks took over and went for their second trick play of the half. QuarterbackRobert Refsnyder pitched to Derek Browning on a reverse, who then pitched it to A.J. Martin on a double reverse. Meanwhile, Refsnyder was streaking downfield. Martin uncorked a pass into triple coverage, but Refsnyder went up and made the catch for a 30-yard gain.
"A.J. is just so versatile," Refsnyder said. "He's made plays all year. He's picked me up and I've picked him up. It's just a true testament of our team."
Fullback Matt Giovinazzo followed up with a 20-yard run, and two plays later Refsnyder scored on a 2-yard run to give the Hawks a 28-21 lead with 7:27 remaining.
Mayfair did not go quietly. The Monsoons mounted one more drive, going from their own 20 to the Hawks' 26 before facing another fourth-and-2 play. With a little over 4 minutes remaining, they had to go for it. Mayfair quarterback Jimmy Ohiri dropped back to pass, but Hawks defensive lineman Noel Molina was all over him. Molina slammed into Ohiri as he unloaded a pass that fell incomplete.
The Hawks took over with 4:06 remaining, picked up three first downs and ran out the clock to seal the victory.
Laguna Hills won the coin toss, but deferred and chose to unleash its defense on Mayfair to start the game. The only problem was that Mayfair opened with a 9-play, 80-yard scoring drive to take a 7-0 lead.
The Monsoons opened up a 14-0 lead when Ohiri connected with Brandon Wolford on a fourth-and-2 play that led to a 24-yard touchdown.
A shanked punt gave the Hawks the ball at Mayfair's 17 late in the first half. Seven plays later, Derek Browning powered his way into the end zone from 2 yards out to cut the deficit in half with 1 minute left in the half.