Mission Hills overcame a slow start and a relentless Torrey Pines team to win 20-17 and advance to the Open Division CIF Finals for the first time since 2013.
The Grizzlies had a solid opening drive marching down the field only to have back-to-back holding calls stall it. Then it got worse when the Falcon’s Chris Tembe broke through the middle of the line and blocked the punt and his teammate Quentin Smith recovered it and ran into the end zone for a 7-0 Torrey Pines lead. That would be the score at halftime.
Torrey Pines got the ball to start the second half and drove down for a Justin Kaplan 37-yard field goal and a 10-0 lead. Mission Hills QB Jack Tuttle found WR Chris Olave on back-to-back plays of 21 yards and a 10-yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit to 10-7. In the fourth quarter Damon Wigand gave Mission Hills a 14-10 lead on a 6-yard touchdown run. Not to be outdone, the Falcon’s Sully O’Brien had a long kick-off return which eventually set up QB Jason Heine for a go-ahead 6-yard touchdown run and a 17-14 Torrey Pines lead with 5:36 left in the game. Tuttle then masterfully led his team down the field setting up a game-winning touchdown pass to Quinton Hadnot from 16 yards out. Hadnot got the game ball and said it was the biggest catch of his life.
Mission Hills advances to the Open Division finals for the first time since 2013. They will play against the Helix Highlanders Saturday, December 2nd at Southwestern College.
PREVIEW The Mission Hills Grizzlies find themselves in a familiar spot; the semi-finals. For 12 straight years under head coach Chris Hauser the maroon and gold are knocking at the door of a CIF Finals appearance. The last time they knocked that door down was in 2013 and they went on to win their only CIF Title in football beating John Carroll’s Oceanside Pirates 36-14. The Torrey Pines Falcons are in the semi-finals for the first time under head coach Ron Gladnick. Since taking over in 2014 Gladnick-coached teams have not advanced beyond the quarterfinals. This sets up to be an emotionally charged battle in San Marcos.
Mission Hills has been largely recognized as the best team in San Diego county since week 1 and they come into the matchup with a perfect 11-0 record. They have an embarrassment of riches on their roster led by Silver Pigskin Finalist Senior QB Jack Tuttle. He will often just have to look for Senior WR Chris Olave who is arguably the fastest player in Southern California and a tremendous playmaker. The Grizzlies defense gives up an average of 14 points per game and is supported by an offense that scores 42 points per game.
Torrey Pines comes in with a 7-4 record. Numbers don’t tell their story, however, grit and determination does. The Falcons are on a bit of a revenge tour after losing back-to-back heartbreakers to Mission Hills and La Costa Canyon respectively. When the Falcons scored late against the Grizzlies in the earlier matchup coach Ron Gladnick decided to go for the two-point conversion and the win rather than kicking the extra point and a tie. The try failed, and the Falcons lost. The following week the Falcons had a 21-6 lead at the half hosting rival La Costa Canyon. They were shut out in the second half and gave up a late touchdown losing 27-21. After stewing over that loss during a bye week they came back and beat the Mavericks 40-0 in the playoffs. They may have lost the battle, but they won the war. Now they continue their march toward revenge against the Grizzlies. The stakes are higher, and the reward is sweeter.
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