Los Angeles Preps: Los Alamitos

When the Southern Section released its softball playoff pairings on Monday, only one Orange County softball team was seeded No. 1. It was Mission Viejo, which earned the prime location atop the Division 2 playoffs. The Diablos will open the playoffs in the first round on Thursday with a game against West Covina, which won a wild-card game to get into the bracket.

(At the bottom of the blog is a look at all seeded teams in softball)

Yet most of the Orange County representation was in Division 1, where Garden Grove Pacifica (26-2) was seeded No. 2, Orange Lutheran (25-4) was No. 3, and Los Alamitos (22-6) was No. 4. The top-seeded team was Norco (26-2), which has a victory over Pacifica but a loss to OLu.

Orange County teams went 3-1 in wild-card games on Tuesday, including Fullerton Rosary's 2-1 victory over Fountain Valley in nine innings. That moves Rosary (18-11) into the first round against Pacifica (26-2), and we can't help but think that it will make the Mariners grimace a little; Rosary has a tendency to play David to other teams' Goliath. It has three victories in the last dozen years over a team ranked No. 1 in the nation. The last time it happened was 2010 when the Royals took out top-seeded Corona Santiago in the first round. Pacifica, by the way, was No. 1 nationally as late as a week ago (more about that later) but are currently No. 2 -- behind Norco in the ESPNHS rankings.

Led by junior third baseman and St. John's commit Kaitlin Fitzgerald (.475, 4 HR), whose 32 RBIs is one shy of the school record set by Katie Chifcian in 2005, Rosary has not been shut out this season, and it has scored at least two runs in 23 games. As for Pacifica, it has won 14 games by shutout, but is coming off a season-ending 1-0 loss to Cypress. The Mariners, who also flex plenty of offense (25 games in which they have scored at least two runs) are led by young pitchers, sophomore Kaylee Carlson (who had perfect game through 19 batters against Cypress) and freshman Kaley Winegarner (who had a no-hitter in her last outing).

Make no mistake, Pacifica didn't draw the second-worst team in the playoffs as a first-round opponent.

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Four swimmers within 50 freestyle record

May, 10, 2012

Three swimmers are within a second of the CIF Southern Section Division I meet record in the girls 50-yard freestyle.

The leader of the trio is a freshman at Saugus High School, a relative newcomer to swimming who is headed to the U.S. Olympic Trials in June to compete in two events.

Abbey Weitzeil is the top seed in the 50 freestyle for the Southern Section Division I meet at Riverside City College. Her top time is 23.38 seconds.

The record is 22.75 seconds set by Courtney Cashion of Irvine High in 2004. Lynrea Baudino from Los Alamitos and Kaitlyn Albertoli from JSerra are within a second of Cashion’s record. La Canada’s Sarah Olson is the fourth seed in the 50 freestyle at 23.80 seconds.

Weitzeil, who is also qualified in the 100 freestyle for the Division I championships, is making quite a splash in the high school swim scene. She didn’t start swimming at the club level until she was in the seventh grade. She has competed at the national level for less than a year.

Her coach said Weitzeil is far from flawless in the 50 freestyle. But she is extremely talented and that helps her overcome a lot of mistakes.

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1. With a week left in the regular season, Sonora called on sophomore catcher Andrew Piraino to make his varsity pitching debut, and he responded with a 2-0 shutout of Freeway League leader La Habra. Sonora trails the Highlanders by a game with two remaining. Piraino pitched a four-hitter.

2. One of the outstanding swim performances of the weekend belonged to Villa Park's B.J. Churnside, who clocked 20.57 seconds in the 50 freestyle—the eighth-best time in county history—and 46.35 in the 100 free to win Century League boys' titles. Tiny Irvine Crean Lutheran is making some noise on the girls' side as freshman Ella Eastin clocked 2:01.65 for the eighth-best eighth-best 200 individual medley in county history, and teammate Lindsey Engel turned in the sixth-fastest 50 free in 23.30 in the Academy League finals.

3. There will be a new champion in lacrosse as Corona del Mar remained undefeated by beating five-time defending champion Foothill, 7-5, in the U.S. Lacrosse Division 1 South semifinals on Saturday. The top-seeded Sea Kings (22-0) won behind Casey Mix and Michael Keasey, who had three goals apiece, and Michael Ortleib's 13 saves against the fourth-seeded Knights. CdM will face San Clemente (15-6) in the finals on Wednesday, 7 p.m., at Dana Hills High. San Clemente beat Santa Margarita, 12-11, on Peyton Garrett's sudden death overtime goal. Robbie Burns had five goals for San Clemente, which trailed 11-8 after three quarters.

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There hasn't been anything dull about the 25th Michelle Carew Classic in Anaheim Hills. The final four teams are set, and they are not only explosive, but they have provided some major fireworks in the early rounds.

Orange Lutheran defeated Norco on the tournament's opening day. Norco was ranked No. 1 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports and in the nation by ESPNHS. The Lancers, who scored a 2-1 victory on Heather Hall's two-out bad-hop single in the bottom of the seventh inning, had been ranked No. 4 by Cal-Hi Sports and No. 15 in the nation but went into the tournament with a two-game losing streak.

Garden Grove Pacifica, ranked No. 2 in the state and 5 in the nation, reached the semifinals by slapping a mercy rule on perennial power Valencia, 9-1, behind Kaylee Carlson's pitching and two RBIs apiece from Rebecca Lee, Kelsey Choate, Kristina Akiona and Ruby Rivera.

Los Alamitos defeated Sacramento Sheldon, which is ranked No. 9 in the state. Los Al is ranked No. 20 in the state and scored a 3-0 victory behind Mattie Scheele's three-run homer and Halle Humphrey's three-hitter.

Anaheim Canyon is in the semifinals despite coming into the tournament with five losses.

The semifinals are set for Peralta Park. Los Alamitos (13-4) plays OLu (19-3) at 12:45 p.m., and Canyon (10-5) plays Pacifica (17-1) at 1 p.m. The title game is at 7:30 p.m.
The Orange County Register ran an interesting article in which it ranked the top 20 football teams over the past decade.

It's a good list, and it's hard to argue with Mission Viejo '04 as the No. 1 team of the decade, though Los Alamitos '04 seems waaaay too high at No. 3, and the omission of the 2009 Edison and Mission Viejo teams seems a bit harsh; those were both one-loss teams that would have given Los Al everything it could handle.

Mission Viejo ('02, '03, '04, '05) and Orange Lutheran ('03, '04, '06, '07) each had four teams in the top 20, and Servite ('07, '09, '10) had three. Los Alamitos ('03, '04), which hasn't won a playoff game since 2004, is named twice, as is Tesoro ('05, '08).

Perhaps reflecting the dispersal of power in Orange County, Mater Dei has only its 2007 team included.

Spoiler alert: Only two teams that aren't currently a Division I/Pac-5 program are included, La Habra '08 and Esperanza '05, though Espy was in Division I at the time of its wild 49-42 loss to Loyola in the championship.

This year's Pac-5 champion Santa Margarita is included; where would you rank the Eagles, who won the Division I Bowl championship behind Johnny Stanton?

Mission Viejo had Mark Sanchez, Orange Lutheran had Aaron Corp, Servite had Cody Fajardo (and Cody Pittman), and Mater Dei had Matt Barkley; so how do you think it shakes out?

For the full list, click here.

Marymount upsets Los Al in volleyball

November, 30, 2011
Marymount of Los Angeles defeated top-seeded Los Alamitos in four games on Tuesday night to advance to the championship match of the CIF State Division I girls volleyball tournament.

Marymount (33-4) won the Southern California regional and will play Palo Alto, the Northern California regional champion, in the state championship match at Concordia University on Saturday.

Marymount lost the first game, 25-21, before winning the next three and knocking Los Alamitos out of the CIF state tournament. Marymount’s Lanti Moye-McLaren had 18 kills.

In other Southern California regional finals, La Costa Canyon defeated St. Lucy’s in four games in Division II. La Costa Canyon will play Presentation from San Jose in the state final.

Cathedral Catholic of San Diego defeated Chadwick in three games in the Division III Southern California final. Cathedral Catholic plays Albany in the state final match.

La Jolla Country Day faces Union Mine from El Dorado in the Division IV championship match.

Tri-City Christian from Vista plays Branson from Ross in the Division V championship match.

All state championship matches are at Concordia University starting at 10 a.m. with the Division V match on Saturday.
1. Tesoro's victory over Servite in the second round of the Pac-5 playoffs was as surprising an outcome as there has been in this postseason. It was Tesoro that turned in a very Servite-like performance in knocking off the state's No. 2-ranked team (and No. 21 nationally). In the end, it was all about the defense. Tesoro limited Servite's running attack to fewer than three yards per carry (31 carries for 89 yards) and intercepted three passes (Cody Pittman had thrown only two all season) -- not to mention the fumble that was returned for a touchdown by Jay Perez one minute after Blake Rodgers scored on the opening drive of the second half. Perez's TD made it 20-17, the defense prevented Servite from scoring in the second half, and Rodgers' second score -- a 51-yard run in the fourth quarter-- ended Servite's reign as two-time champion.

2. Trabuco Hills boys and San Clemente girls won State Division 1 cross country titles in Fresno. Trabuco had its five scoring runners finish in the top 35. The Mustangs were so strong that only 30 seconds separated ninth-place Jared Hazlett (15 minutes 25 seconds) from 34th Max Moncur (15:55). The combined time of the top five runners (78:12.30) on the 3.1-mile layout was seven seconds faster than the next-closest team from any of the five divisions, Arcadia. San Clemente won behind sophomore Melissa Eisele, who finished 13th; the Tritons' five scoring runners included two freshmen. Also winning a title, in Division V, was St. Margaret's boys and individual champion Billy Gaudreau, who won his second in a row. JSerra's girls won the Division IV title behind Brooke Kunzelman and Ashley Geisler, who finished 20th and 21st.

3. Conner Manning of El Toro has passed for 3,472 yards this season, and should break the Orange County record on Friday against La Habra; needing just 88 yards to reach the total set by Matt Barkley (Mater Dei), who graduated in 2009. If Manning (35 TDs, 5 int.) doesn't reach the record, then the Chargers will be in a mess of hurt. The junior passed for a season-best 444 yards and five touchdowns in a first-round victory over Esperanza, and on Friday passed for 332 yards and four touchdowns in a 54-30 victory over Yorba Linda. He passed for fewer than 217 yards only once, when he passed for 161 and two touchdowns in a 48-0 win over Schurr. Manning's favorite target, Cody White, has 70 receptions and 13 touchdowns.

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CIF SoCal volleyball finals set

November, 27, 2011
Top-seeded Los Alamitos will play second-seeded Marymount in the CIF Southern California Division I girls volleyball final on Tuesday.

Los Alamitos defeated Corona del Mar in four games to advance to the Southern California final.

Marymount needed five games to eliminate Newport Harbor in the Southern California semifinals.

There were no upsets, other than No. 3 San Diego Parker eliminating No. 2 Visalia Central Valley Christian in the Division IV playoffs, in the other four Southern California regional playoffs on Saturday night. Here's a look at the semifinal matches in the other divisions:

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Los Alamitos advances in CIF state girls volleyball tournament

November, 23, 2011
The Granada Hills girls volleyball team won the first game against Marymount in the CIF Division I state tournament, but eventually lost in four games to the Southern Section Division I-A champion on Tuesday night.

Granada Hills, the City Section champion, took the first game, 25-23, but lost the next three and were eliminated from the CIF state girls volleyball Division I playoffs in the first round.

Paige McFerren had nine kills and six blocks to lead Granada Hills.

Marymount’s Manon Greskovics-Fuller had 11 kills to lead Marymount.

Marymount plays Newport Harbor in the quarterfinals on Saturday.

Newport Harbor beat Clovis West in five games to advance.

In other first-round matches, top-seeded Los Alamitos beat Centennial of Bakersfield in three games. Corona del Mar eliminated Torrey Pines in five games, winning the fifth game, 19-17.

In the CIF Division II girls volleyball playoffs, top-seeded La Costa Canyon beat Whittier Christian in four games.

La Salle of Pasadena went the distance against Palisades Charter and won the fifth game, 15-6, to advance to the quarterfinals.

Downey eliminated Madera in four games. St. Lucy’s of Glendora beat Bonita Vista of Chula Vista in four games.

In the CIF Division III bracket, top-seeded Cathedral Catholic from San Diego swept Hemet out of of the playoffs.

Pasadena Poly pulled off a bit of an upset, eliminating Independence from Bakersfield in three games.

Brentwood moved into the quarterfinals by sweeping La Jolla. Chadwick beat Golden Valley from Bakersfield in three games.

In the CIF Division IV bracket, top-seeded La Jolla Country Day swept Connelly of Anaheim in three games.

Viewpoint from Calabasas lost in the first round in four games to Sage Hill. Francis Parker from San Diego swept Elizabeth Learning Center from Cudahy in three games. Central Valley Christian beat St. Margaret’s in three games.

In the CIF Division V bracket, top-seeded Tri-City Christian from Vista swept Sierra Canyon from Chatsworth in the first round. Coast Union from Cambria swept Sierra Pacific from Hanford. Kings Christian from Lemoore eliminated Coastal Christian from Arroyo Grande in three games. Desert Christian Academy from Bermuda Dunes knocked Pacific Ridge out of the playoffs in four games.
Sometimes, all that's needed is a wakeup call. Los Alamitos got that in the Sunset League finale when it was swept by Edison in a girls' volleyball match. The loss prevented the Griffins from being the No. 1 seeded team in the Southern Section Division 1AA playoffs, but it didn't matter.

They didn't lose again.

The section title came Saturday night at Cypress College with a 25-17, 26-24, 25-23 victory over league rival Newport Harbor.

Los Alamitos (35-3) didn't lose a game during its five-match playoff run; it was only the second time that it needed more than 25 points to win a game.

This was the third victory this season for the Griffins over Newport Harbor (25-9).

The winning effort was paved by JoJo Schnabl, who had 14 kills and Alijah Gunsaulus with 12. Also contributing handily were Chrissy Jones (10) and Jaylen Villanueva (8).

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1. The goals that Jim Hartigan instituted at JSerra for the program to take steps forward kept getting bigger and bigger. Win a game. Win all the nonleague games. Win a Trinity League game. And though the Lions -- outclassed in the league largely because of depth -- had scored a Trinity victory a couple of years ago against Santa Margarita, it paled compared to the victory this past weekend over Orange Lutheran. When JSerra beat Santa Margarita, 14-12, in the 2009 season, it beat a team that was struggling and finished 3-7 overall and failed to win a league game for the first time in its history. When it beat Lutheran by scoring 17 points in the fourth quarter for a 31-14 victory, it beat a team that was clearly acknowledged as one of the best in Orange County and was ranked in the ESPNLA Top 25. Quarterback Jake Hall and receiver Jonavaughn Williams are playmakers of the first order. Going into the final week of the season, JSerra (4-5, 1-3) is still alive for a playoff berth: If JSerra beats Mater Dei (3-6, 1-3) and Orange Lutheran (6-3, 1-3) beats St. John Bosco (6-3, 2-2), a coin flip would determine the third-place playoff entry from the league.

2. If there was a bigger win in Orange County than JSerra's over Orange Lutheran, it would probably have to be Huntington Beach's 58-28 Sunset League victory over Los Alamitos, a game in which the Oilers eliminated Los Al from playoff contention. Michael Chislock passed for three touchdowns and ran for two more as Huntington Beach (7-2, 3-1) showed that it might be a dangerous opponent in the postseason; comparably, Santa Margarita defeated Los Al, 38-27. Like JSerra's Trinity League upset, it was a second-half barrage that decided it; Los Al had scored the first 14 points, and trailed 24-16 just a minute into the third quarter before Huntington Beach scored six touchdowns (including an interception return by Zach Hadlock and fumble recovery by Ramon Vargas) and a field goal; the only TD allowed by the Oilers defense over the final 23 minutes was a 57-yard run by Cody Paul. It has to be a bitter disappointment for Los Alamitos, which hasn't won a playoff game since reaching the Southern Section finals in 2004. Los Al (5-4, 1-3) has lost four of its last five games and, on the season, is 1-4 against opponents with a winning record. At the earliest, it will be next season before coach John Barnes (293-89) collects his 300th victory.

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O.C.: Games of the Week

November, 3, 2011
Yorba Linda (8-0, 4-0) vs. Cypress (6-2, 3-1) at Western HS, Thursday, 7 p.m.
A victory by Cypress and running back Vincent "Bug" Rivera (19 TDs) could create a three-way tie for first place in the Empire League, so the Centurions should be plenty motivated. There's no guarantee that it will happen, though. Cypress was throttled by Tustin last week, 42-21, and Yorba Linda beat Tustin, 14-12, three weeks ago. This is Yorba Linda's first team with a senior class and the Mustangs are making the most of it led by quarterback Alex Bernstein (13 TDs, 3 int.). Still, they remain largely untested -- Cypress is one of only two opponents with a winning record (Tustin was the other).

No. 1 Servite (7-1, 3-0) vs. Mater Dei (3-5, 1-2) at Angel Stadium, Friday, 7:30 p.m.
After losing to Mater Dei for 20 straight seasons, Servite is going for its third consecutive victory against the Monarchs. A Servite win will clinch a share of a seventh consecutive league title since Troy Thomas became the coach, it will prevent Mater Dei from reaching the playoffs for the first time since 1986, and it will ensure Mater Dei's fifth losing season since 1950. Mater Dei should be the more motivated and emotional team, but the key will be mounting a ground game against Servite's stellar defense led by linebacker Butch Pauu. The Monarchs couldn't do it against Orange Lutheran in last week's 28-0 loss, and Servite's defense is even better. It could mean Ryan McMahon (5 TDs, 9 int.) throws a lot of passes, and though the Servite secondary might be its Achilles heel, McMahon will likely be under pressure and won't get many good looks. The battle will be won in the trenches. Servite's solid ground game could see the return of its leading rusher before he got hurt, Charlie Etiaki, and quarterback Cody Pittman (10 TDs, 2 int.) continues to be an efficient winner.

No. 16 St. John Bosco (6-2, 2-1) at No. 6 Santa Margarita (7-1, 2-1) at Saddleback College, Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Second place is on the line in the Trinity League. Bosco is coming off its emotional loss to Servite, and Santa Margarita is trying to maintain momentum heading into a season finale against the Friars. Both teams have potent offenses, and though Bosco might have the more dynamic skill players in receiver Bryce Treggs and running back Davonte Young, Santa Margarita figures to be stronger in the trenches, and that has been enough for RB Ryan Wolpin (20 TDs) and dual-threat QB Johnny Stanton (6 TD, 7 int.), who has rushed for 12 touchdowns. This should be the game of the night.

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O.C.: The Top 10

October, 23, 2011
Nate Tago and Blake Rodgers pounded Trabuco Hills for four quarters as Tesoro scored three second-half touchdowns to beat the then-No. 10 Mustangs. That's enough to get the Titans back into the top 10. As for the Trinity League, it's a mess -- should Santa Margarita jump Mater Dei?

1. (1) Servite (6-1)
Friars turned in another complete performance as Mana Pauu rushed for 133 yards and Cody Pittman rushed for 77 and passed for 151. Last: beat JSerra, 42-14. Next: at St. John Bosco, Friday, 7:30 p.m.

2. (2) San Clemente (8-0)
After falling behind, 10-7, balanced attack with QB Travis Wilson and RB Mike Elespuru turn back the Tritons' natural rival. Last: beat Dana Hills, 35-10. Next: at Mission Viejo, Friday, 7:30 p.m.

3. (3) Mission Viejo (5-2)
Diablos, off last week, will have had two weeks to get ready for San Clemente, and may have some additions to the lineup after early injuries. Last: Idle. Next: vs. San Clemente, Friday, 7:30 p.m.

4. (6) Santa Margarita (5-2)
Eagles were the exact opposite of what they were a week earlier in loss to Mater Dei; Johnny Stanton, Ryan Wolpin and defense were outstanding in must-win game. Last: beat Orange Lutheran, 31-10. Next: vs. JSerra at Saddleback College, Friday, 7:30 p.m.

5. (4) Orange Lutheran (5-2)
Couldn't keep up in the second half as a pair of late fourth-quarter scores turned a close score into a runaway. Last: lost to Santa Margarita, 31-10. Next: vs. Mater Dei at Orange Coast College, 7:30 p.m.

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O.C.: The Top 10

October, 16, 2011
How high should San Clemente rise after beating Trabuco Hills? Well, the Tritons beat Mater Dei, which beat No. 2 Santa Margarita. Let's see how San Clemente handles being the best team that isn't Servite.

1. (1) Servite (5-1)
Friars turned in their best effort of the season, including a stellar performance on defense led by Butch Pauu. Next: vs. JSerra at Cerritos College, Friday, 7:30 p.m.

2. (5) San Clemente (7-0)
Tritons, after a couple of off weeks, blasted their way to victory in South Coast League opener behind RBs Mike Elespuru and Nick Pasquale. Last: beat Trabuco Hills, 43-14. Next: vs. Dana Hills, Friday, 7 p.m.

3. (3) Mission Viejo (5-2)
Despite 18 penalties, the Diablos rolled behind a strong performance from QB Alex Bridgford, who had three TD passes. Last: beat Dana Hills, 48-21. Next: idle.

4. (4) Orange Lutheran (5-1)
Salvaged the night with a last-second touchdown, but Lutheran's offense was no match for Servite's defense. Last: lost to Servite, 21-8. Next: vs. Santa Margarita at Saddleback College, Friday, 7:30 p.m.

5. (6) Mater Dei (3-3)
Monarchs have won three in a row, but who saw the upset coming against the No. 2 team? The defense and QB Ryan McMahon played as if they saw it coming. Last: beat Santa Margarita, 21-14. Next: at St. John Bosco, Friday, 7:30 p.m.

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Edison 10, Los Alamitos 7

October, 13, 2011
Sedric HillBlair Angulo/ESPNLosAngeles.comEdison senior Sedric Hill had a 100-yard interception return for a TD that gave Edison a 7-0 lead in the second quarter.

HUNTINGTON BEACH -- It wasn't complete self-destruction because, well, time ran out.

The Edison Chargers survived a hectic final minute Friday night, escaping Sheue Field with a 10-7 win over Los Alamitos in the Sunset League opener. Edison nearly lost a fumble, had a punt blocked and was flagged for roughing the kicker on the potential game-tying field goal -- all with under a minute remaining.

Los Alamitos got new life after the missed 37-yard field goal and, with 13 seconds left, had the ball at the Chargers 10. The Griffins, without timeouts, handed the ball off to shifty back Cody Paul on a draw up the middle. He was tackled at the five and the seconds ticked off, one by one. Appearing dazed, Los Alamitos didn't even line up for another play.

Afterward, Edison coach Dave White could joke about it.

"We tried to give it away," White said, grinning.

The win improved the Chargers' chances of taking back the Sunset League crown from defending champ Los Alamitos. Edison (4-2) avoided its third straight loss and second straight heartbreak.

"The finish was nerve-racking," said Edison quarterback Chase Favreau, who had 80 yards rushing on 16 carries.

With the rush attack working, Favreau was credited with only three pass attempts, which he was perfect on for 58 yards. Tailback Elijah Herrera added 80 yards on the ground but eight penalties slowed the offense at inopportune times.

Edison's touchdown came in the second quarter, courtesy of the defense. Los Alamitos quarterback Dylan Lagarde’s lob to top target Kyle Roberts was picked off at the goal line by Sedric Hill.

"Once I caught the ball I had to run for my life," Hill said. "It was a big play."

Hill, with a convoy in front of him, returned the interception 100 yards for the score.

The Griffins (4-2) had their chances. They took the opening drive 64 yards to the Edison 16 but stalled, failing to convert on a fake field goal pass. They took the ball 75 yards on their second drive but turned the ball over on downs. Really, it could have been far worse for Los Al had Edison taken care of the football. The Chargers ran it 15 consecutive times on their first possession, and it appeared as if the strategy might work. They were a yard away from scoring when Herrera coughed up his first-down carry and the Griffins recovered. Favreau lost a fumble on the very next drive.

Paul, who finished with 145 yards rushing in 28 carries, capped a 68-yard drive with a five-yard touchdown to tie it at 7-7 late in the third quarter. But the Chargers regained the lead, 10-7, on a 32-yard field goal by Aleksander Torgersen, setting up the craziness that was the fourth quarter.

"We had lost a lot of confidence," White said. "We needed this one badly."