Vista Fails to Make Big Plays in Loss to Mission Viejo

Vista Murrieta High quarterback Karson Greeley looks for running room during the second half Friday night. Murrieta 24/7 photos: Doug S...

Vista Murrieta High quarterback Karson Greeley looks for running room during the second half Friday night.
Murrieta 24/7 photos: Doug Spoon

As it so often does in big games, it came down to the team that made the most big plays.

Vista Murrieta failed to convert on three drives deep in the opposition's territory and got burned on three long touchdown passes Friday night, resulting in a 21-14 loss to undefeated Mission Viejo in the CIF Southern Section West Valley Division championship game.

Playing before a loud sellout home crowd, the Broncos (12-2) led 7-0 late in the first quarter on the strength of a 31-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Karson Greeley to his brother Cade (left).
Vista then appeared to have stopped a Mission Viejo drive, but a Vista penalty for a late hit on the quarterback on third-and-12 gave the Diablos another chance -- which they cashed in. Moments later, quarterback Brock Johnson found wide receiver Brenden Schooler open behind the Bronco secondary for a 41-yard touchdown pass.

On the next series, Vista Murrieta drove down to the Mission Viejo 18-yard line, where the drive stalled. A field goal attempt was blocked, setting up a Diablos drive that paid off quickly when Johnson passed 45 yards to Olaijah Griffin for a touchdown and a 14-7 lead in the second quarter.

The tone was set. Vista tied the game at the start of the third quarter on a 58-yard pass from Karson Greeley to Khalil Shakir, but Greeley was also intercepted twice in the game. Meanwhile, Mission Viejo continued to come up with the big plays. Johnson passed 38 yards to Griffin early in the fourth quarter, setting up a 1-yard touchdown run by Colin Schooler, who rushed for 155 yards in the game.

"The difference in the game was that they made three long touchdown passes over the top and we didn't make any plays," said Vista coach Coley Candaele. "We made zero plays in the secondary, and when that happens, you lose tight games like that.

"We had good field position and we didn't score enough. You've got to score more than 14 points if you're going to win a CIF championship. You have to prevent the big play and create turnovers. We got zero turnovers and we gave up two picks."

The fact that Vista Murrieta failed to convert key opportunities and Mission Viejo did was not lost on Candaele, whose team has now lost to the Diablos in the finals two years in a row.

"That's Mission Viejo," he said. "Mission Viejo makes zero mistakes. That's what they did all year and that's why they're 14-0."

Although it was Vista Murrieta's sixth loss in seven CIF championship appearances, the Broncos got some big performances. Karson Greeley passed for 180 yards and showed a knack for running with the football seldom seen before. Running back Cole Dubots had some impressive runs for Vista. Unfortunately for the home team, Greeley couldn't find wide receiver Kyle Williams open behind the Mission Viejo defense.

Then there were the missed opportunities in the first quarter -- primarily the blown chance to stop the Diablos because of the late hit penalty.

"What was the biggest play? The late hit on the quarterback in the first quarter," Candaele said. "That changed the whole outcome of the game. That was third and 12 and we hit the quarterback late.

"You can't blame the kid. He's playing hard and aggressive and you're going to get those plays when you're blitzing the quarterback. But if we didn't get that one called on us, we'd have gotten the ball back and it would've been different."

Cade Greeley left the game (above photo) after taking a blow to the head during an unsuccessful catch of a pass in the fourth quarter. Candaele questioned the lack of a call by the officials, to no avail.

Cole Dubots found some running room for the Broncos on several occasions.

Vista Murrieta wide receiver Khalil Shakir outruns the defense on his way to a 58-yard touchdown play in the third quarter.

Keyon Ware-Hudson puts a hit on Mission Viejo quarterback Brock Johnson.

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