East County Sports

Eagles’ effort good, but mistakes costly

2021 EAST COUNTY PREP FOOTBALL

MADISON 28, GRANITE HILLS 20

ECS staff report

CLAIREMONT MESA —- Imitation may be a high form of flattery, but not in football.

The Madison Warhawks saw what Granite Hills did in last week’s CIF opener victory, going almost exclusively with a ground attack in the second half to squelch Oceanside, so the Hawks decided to follow a similar script.

Third-seeded Madison posted a pair of long, run-oriented scoring drives in the second have, while Granite Hills came away without a point in four drives into the red zone, the difference in a 28-20 triumph over the Eagles in Friday’s (Nov. 12) CIFSDS Division I quarterfinals.

Madison will advance to face second-seed Lincoln in next weekend’s division Final Four pairing. The other half of the draw finds top-seed Helix hosting fifth-seed El Camino, who secured a mild upset of fourth-seed La Costa Canyon, 30-20.

“We were miss handling snaps, not catching touchdown passes, and fumbling twice in the red zone, so it’s very frustrating on the offensive side of the ball the way we played tonight,” Granite Hills head coach Kellan Cobbs said. “And we had a field goal taking off the board because we had a false start and ended up missing the longer kick.”

While Granite Hills displayed several strong defenders, Madison seemed to only need top run-stopper in nose guard Makhai L’viavia, who stopped two of the Eagles’ four incursions into the red zone.

L’viavia’s first big tackle resulted in a field goal attempt late in the second quarter. However, the Eagles themselves with a false-start penalty and the ensuing boot from 44 yards fell just short.

The sophomore also made consecutive stops from the Hawks’ 1, the second for a 4-yard loss. One play later, Granite Hills fumbled the way to again be left with nothing after a long march.

This time, however, the Eagles defense bailed out the offense. On Madison’s third-down pass was intercepted by junior defensive back Easton Peterson, who rambled 24 yards for a Pick 6 to trim the deficit to 21-12.

“The interception was a result of that great game plan put in place by our coaches,” Peterson said. “I was in the right place at the right time and it just so happened to occur at a great time to get us back into the game. I know everyone on our defense has the mindset that we will do whatever it takes to get a win. The interception for a TD was a good momentum shift for our team, unfortunately, we came up short in the end.”

Madison answered with another long march of 83 yards for a 28-12 cushion.

Forced to pass midway through the fourth quarter, Nico Tomasello entered at quarterback and moved the Eagles the length of the field in just over a minute. The junior collected 45 yards on a scramble, then advanced to the Madison-10 on a pair of obvious pass interference infractions.

Tomasello then scored just inside the right pylon on a trick play, handing the ball to Colin Riley, who flipped the ball back to a wide-open Tomeasello with just under one minute remaining.

The 2-point conversion gave Granite Hills (5-7) a chance by trailing by eight points. The ensuing onside kick attempt failed and the Warhawks (9-2) ran out the final seconds, although they were forced to punt, a desperate running into the kicker penalty gave the Hawks their victory-clinching first down.

“Madison has a great defense,” Cobbs said. “They held Lincoln to 10 points and not many defensive squads can hold Lincoln to only 10 points. We just could not finish drives. No mistakes gets us a trip to the semis.”

In the first half, after Madison took a 7-0 lead, the Eagles countered on a 4-yard burst by Joaquin Thomas, capping a 10-play, 79-yard drive. On the conversion, however, a Madison lineman jumped over the offensive line, then lunged forward to block the kick.

It was such small plays that kept the Warhawks in the lead throughout despite a solid Granite Hills effort to remain close despite the differences in the teams’ records.

“That was a tough loss,” Peterson said. “We worked hard all week and had a good game plan going in. Jordan Glaze, Corey Thompson, Derrek Ibarra, and Zach Burton had really great game as usual. But at Granite Hills, we try to play team defense where everyone contributes and I think the defensive effort tonight showed that.”

The Eagles are expected to return seven underclassmen on offense and seven underclassmen on defense next season, according to Cobbs.

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