May 27, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PHOTOS: Marina rallies for 24-21 victory over Ontario Christian and advances to semis

Marina quarterback Gavin Del Toro stiff-arms a defender for a gain Friday. (Photos Fernando M. Donado, For OC Sports Zone)

The No. 2-seeded Marina High football team’s dream season will continue at least another week as the Vikings extended their playoff run with a 24-21 victory over Ontario Christian in a CIF Division 11 quarterfinal playoff game at Westminster High Friday night.

To see the photos, please click on the first photo

Running back Pharoah Rush and backup quarterback Gavin Del Toro jumped-started the Marina offense in the second-half as the Vikings scored 17 second-half points to erase a first-half deficit and earn an impressive comeback win.

Marina advances to the semifinal game next Friday and will play the winner of the Hemet/El Rancho game. It marks the first time the Vikings will appear in a semifinal CIF playoff game since 1981. Marina has never advanced to a CIF final.

Rush carried the ball 19 times for 135 yards. His gutty running sparked the Vikings and helped turn the tide of the game in the second half.    

“We made some key adjustments at half and started to attack the short side of the field,” said Rush, who helped the Vikings (10-2) win their fifth consecutive game. “It’s amazing to be going to the semifinals.”

Trailing 14-7 at halftime, the Vikings got to work quickly in the third quarter.

Rush sparked the Vikings offense on the first play of the second half as he exploded for a 55-yard run to the Knights 10. Three plays later, Del Toro lofted a 13-yard TD pass to junior wide receiver Dane Brenton in the corner of the end zone as Marina tied the score the score at 14-14 at the 10:07 mark of the third quarter.

“I didn’t have any nerves when I came into the game, it was business as usual,” said Del Toro, who entered the game as quarterback late in the first half after starting quarterback Jack Miller injured his collar bone. “It’s indescribable how I feel at this time. We came out in the second half and gained momentum.”

Following a short Ontario Christian punt on the ensuing possession, Rush carried the ball several times on the ensuing Vikings’ six-play scoring drive. Del Toro finished the drive with a one-yard TD run to give Marina a 21-14 lead with 4:07 left in the third quarter.

The Viking defense led, by linebacker Nathan O’Rourke and defensive lineman Darren Vasquez, shut down the Knights offense on its first third possessions of the second half.

“Our defensive lineman made key adjustments at halftime on how they were attacking their blocking,” said O’Rourke. “Our goal is to get a ring, that’s our goal.”

A huge Ontario Christian gaffe midway through the final quarter led to a Marina field goal. 

As the Knights were attempting to punt, the snap from center hit one of the Ontario Christian up men and the Vikings recovered the ball at the Knights 4-yard line. However, the Vikings were only able to add an Eric Church 27-yard field goal to increase their ead to 24-14 with 5:06 to play.

The Knights countered quickly and Daniel Serna completed an 18-yard TD pass to Alvis Nuno to cut the lead to 24-21 with 3:36 remaining.

Del Toro then guided the Marina offense to several key first downs to run out the clock and secure the victory.

“I told people all season long we were successful using two quarterbacks,” said Marina Coach Jeff Turley. “I was glad to get that young man (Del Toro) a lot of reps this season. He stepped up and it was wonderful to watch.”

Ontario Christian, the second-place finisher in the Ambassador League, finishes the season at 9-2. Tyler Ford led the Knights with 100 yards rushing. 

The Knights took their opening possession of the game and marched 67 yards in six plays to take a 7-0 lead.

Ontario Christian ran the ball six consecutive times, highlighted by two long runs by Ford. Running back Alexander Terriquez capped the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run to give the Knights the early lead.

On the first play of the second quarter, the Vikings countered and tied the score at 7-7, but it would prove to be costly.

Miller guided the Marina drive and completed two passes and raced 20 yards into Knights territory for a key first down, but left the game after getting injured. Del Toro entered the game and finished the 80-yard,11-play scoring drive with a one-yard TD run.   

“I hurt it my shoulder on defense and then hurt it again on offense when I got tackled,” Miller said. “I’ll have X-rays tomorrow, but I hope to be playing next week.”

Midway through the second quarter the Knights regained the lead after linebacker Connor Mooneyhan intercepted a Vikings pass and returned it 11 yards for a touchdown, giving Ontario Christian. 14-7 lead.

The Knights racked up 158 yards of offense in the first half and limited Marina to 78 yards. 

STATS

RUSHING: ONT, Ford 10-100, Serna 7-28; MAR, Rush 19-135, Riederich 9-25

PASSING: ONT, Serna 4-9-0, 80 yards, TD; MAR, Miller 3-5-0, 14 yards, Del Toro 6-9-1, 63 yards, TD  

RECEIVING: ONT, Englebrecht 1-46, Nuno 1-18; MAR, Riederich 3-29, Brenton 2-18.

-Tom Connolly, For OC Sports Zone