Raphael Lawson-Gayle gains some of his 191 rushing yards in Mira Costa’s 35-21 win over Highland in the first round of the CIF Northern Division playoffs. Photo by Ray Vidal
Mira Costa’s veer offense produced 466 rushing yards against visiting Highland in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Northern Division playoffs, setting up an all-Bay League quarterfinal contest Friday at West Torrance.
The Mustangs (8-3) return to the site where they defeated the Warriors 62-42 in a wild Bay League opener Oct. 5. Friday’s game should provide the same excitement after West (8-3) – which lost to Mira Costa, Palos Verdes and Redondo in league play but gained at at-large playoff berth with its overall record – stunned fourth-seeded St. Joseph in Santa Maria 45-20 on Friday.
Once again, the Mira Costa coaching staff made crucial adjustments at halftime to secure its 35-21 victory, this time countering the speed and athleticism of a determined Highland team that lost its starting quarterback to a knee injury early in the game.
Raphael Lawson-Gayle led Mira Costa’s ground attack with 191 yards and two touchdowns as the Mustangs rushed for 323 yards while scoring 21 points in the second half.
Sebastian Franck-Love added 99 yards and a touchdown rushing and quarterback Khalil McClain ran for 88 yards and two touchdowns.
Friday’s game with West will feature two of the area’s best running backs. Lawson-Gayle has rushed for 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns this season. The Warriors will counter with Barry Thomas, the leading ground gainer in the South Bay with 1,752 yards and 29 touchdowns on 215 carries.
West quarterback Joey Notch completed 25 of 34 passing attempts for 272 yards and two touchdowns against St. Joseph. He has thrown for 2,423 yards and 24 touchdowns with 12 interceptions this year.
Mira Costa quarterback Khalil McClain secures the ball against an aggressive Highland defense. Photo by Ray Vidal
Notch has an arsenal of targets including Craig Knaus (58 receptions, 758 yards, 11 TDs), Dane Silverlake (39 receptions, 552 yards, 7 TDs) and tight end Matt Boesen (over 500 yards, 4 TDs).
Mira Costa and West have both surrendered 280 points in 11 games with West holding the advantage in points scored 453-376.
The winner of the Mira Costa-West game will advance to the semifinals to face the winner of the Canyon/Canyon Country-Atascadero match up. Atascadero upset undefeated and top-seeded Palmdale 26-7 in the first round.
Sea Hawk’s season ends
Redondo (5-6) saw its season end under first-year head coach Matt Ballard with a 38-21 loss at favored Quartz Hill (8-3) but the scrappy Sea Hawks did not go down quietly.
Trailing 14-0, quarterback Harrison Faecher closed the gap with a 3-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Faecher’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Colin Hindle in the third quarter evened the score at 14 but Quartz Hill running back Osirius Burke’s 170-yard, 3-touchdown performance was too much to overcome for the Sea Hawks.
Joe Ramos kept Redondo in the game with an 8-yard touchdown catch to decrease the deficit to 24-21 in the third quarter before Quartz Hill scored 14 unanswered points to seal the victory.
Quartz Hill will host second-seeded Valencia (8-3) in the quarterfinals.
Bay League champion and third-seeded Palos Verdes (8-3) ran all over visiting Antelope Valley 49-13 and will play at Hart (8-3) on Friday.
In the Northwest Division, fourth-seeded North Torrance (9-2) shutout visiting Oak Park 27-0 and will travel to take on Gladstone (10-1) in the second round. Pioneer League runner-up El Segundo (7-4) eliminated La Puente 31-7 and will host Pioneer rival Centennial of Compton which upset third-seeded La Salle 12-10. South Torrance (4-7) lost at top-seeded Bishop Diego 43-9 and Del Rey League runner-up Bishop Montgomery fell to visiting Village Christian 38-21.
In the Western Division, fourth-seeded Serra (9-2) routed Oxnard 49-14 and will host Ocean League champion Santa Monica (8-3) in the quarterfinals.