Los Angeles Preps: Ryan Harris

MISSION VIEJO -- The one sticking point in Mission Viejo's game this season was supposed to be its defense. The offense? Loaded. The defense? Well, everyone wanted to talk about the offense.

But if there was disparity between the two sides of the ball, the gap closed Friday night as the home Mission Viejo defense led the way in a tough 17-12 nonleague victory over Long Beach Poly.

It's the fourth time in four games that Mission Viejo (3-1), ranked No. 4 in the ESPNLA top 25, has beaten Poly (3-1), which came into the game ranked No. 2.

The defense, led by Ryan Harris and Colin Dzubnar, limited Poly to just two field goals. The only touchdown created by the Jackrabbits came when Randall Goforth returned an interception 85 yards for a score with 5 minutes 16 seconds left. The two-point conversion failed. Still, it made the final five minutes a lot more interesting as Poly was just one play from winning.

The Mission Viejo defense set up the offense for 10 points. Garrett Marino recovered a fumble on the game's first play that led to a 27-yard drive, and Anthony Pierce's interception late in the third quarter -- with a 23-yard return -- gave Mission the ball at the Poly 14; Zach Christensen kicked a 28-yard field goal for a 17-6 lead.

"I'm very happy, I'm ecstatic," said Mission Viejo coach Bob Johnson. "We beat a good team. They were revved up and ready to go. That's a good football team and I'm sure they'll be in the playoffs, and I'm sure we will too. I'm happy. There was some sputtering here and some sputtering there -- it's high school football.

"Our defense, I'm so proud of them."

Poly gained only nine yards in 18 rushing attempts, and quarterback Chaiyse Hales completed 10 of 18 passes for 92 yards.

(Read full post)