Mission Viejo deals Moeller another fourth quarter heartbreaker in Herbstreit Challenge


Mission Viejo 26, Moeller 22
So much for jet lag. The Diablos of Mission Viejo (Calif.) wasted no time Saturday jumping on Moeller in the third game of the Kirk Herbstreit Ohio vs. USA Challenge at the University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium. After building a 14-0 first quarter lead, however, Viejo had to rally to record a 26-22 win. The Diablos scored the winning TD with less than 90 seconds to go.


CINCINNATI – So much for jet lag.

The Diablos of Mission Viejo (Calif.) wasted no time jumping on Moeller en route to a 26-22 win in the third game of the Kirk Herbstreit Ohio vs. USA Challenge at the University of Cincinnati ’s Nippert Stadium Saturday.

Diablo quarterback Al Bridgeford hooked up with Warren Reuland for 69-yards on the first play from scrimmage and Viejo added a second score just a couple minutes later after holding Moeller to a three and out.  Diablo running back Craig Woods punctuated the short drive with a 1-yard run. 

In hindsight, it may have been Moeller who suffered from the jet lag even though they were playing in their home town. The Crusaders were stuck in a third and nine on their second possession when they suddenly came to life.

Moeller quarterback Ross Oltorik completed his third pass attempt for 11 yards and the Crusaders first first down. Tim Uecker followed up with runs of 13 and 50 yards, the latter going for a touchdown and getting the Crusaders back in the game at 14-7.

The awakening affected the defense as well and junior Kelley Barnes responded with a huge interception of Bridgeford. Moeller took over on the Viejo 33 yard line.

Patrick Blanks was the workhouse on the second Moeller scoring drive but Oltorik did the scoring honors from a yard out on the first play of the second quarter. Ryan Sunderman’s kick was no good and the Diablos stayed in front 14-13.

Viejo responded with a drive to the Moeller 8-yard line aided by a defensive pass interference penalty.  The Crusader defense held for downs and the threat came to a close.

After a Moeller punt, a Diablo miscue aided the Moeller cause. On fourth and 11 from their own nine, a bad punt snap was bobbled out of the back of the end zone for a safety and a 15-14 Moeller lead. 

Tony Harris of Moeller had a nice return on the free kick and the blue and gold were in business again before the half. A screen pass to Blanks and a defensive pass interference penalty gave Moeller the ball on the Viejo 9-yard line where Oltorik connected with Uecker for the score giving Moeller a 22-14 lead heading into the locker room.

In the second half, the Crusders were outscored 12-0 and their last ditch effort to come from behind fell about 30 seconds and a couple inches short.

Following a scorless third quarter in which the teams combined for five first downs, Viejo tallied its first score of the second half in the fourth.

Viejo’s Kyle Chandler, who caught seven passes for a game high 140 yards, was on the receiving end of a Bridgeford’s 20-yard scoring toss. Bridgeford couldn’t find a receiver on the 2-point conversion attempt and Moeller clung to a thin 22-20 lead.

Moeller punted on its next possession and when Viejo missed a 38-yard field goal attempt off the upright, it appeared as if the Crusaders were going to hold on for the victory. The Diablos got one more chance with the football, though, and made it count. 

Viejo drove 72 yards on seven plays and was aided by a pass interference call. Following the penalty, Bridgeford connected with tight end Corbin Davis and Woods moved the ball to the 5-yard line with 1:22 to play on a 10-yard run. Following a Moeller time out, Viejo came out in the “ Maryland I” and behind the extra blockers Woods added his second score to put the Diablos on top for good.

Moeller moved from its own 18 to inside the Viejo 22-yard line, but a desperation heave by Oltorik was thrown out of the back of the endzone and the Crusaders, for the second straight season, lost a heartbreaker in the final minutes of the Herbstreit Challenge.

Oltorik completed 16-of-29 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown and Uecker led the Crusaders with seven catches for 56 yards and a score. Uecker also lead all rushers with 101 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown, while Patrick Blanks added 43 yards on 11 carries.

Bridgeford was 17-of-29 for 282 yards and two TDs. He also threw an interception. Alex Mascarenas teamed with Chandler for 36 yards on four catches. Woods ran for 82 yards on 19 carries in addition to his two scores.

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