By Duane Barker
(Mission Viejo) Baraq Ross rushed for 176-yards and three touchdowns and the Downey defense held Capistrano Valley in check as the Vikings advanced to the CIF Division IV Finals with a 41-21 victory on the campus of Capistrano Valley High School.
The Vikings went to work straight away taking the opening drive 64 yards on eight plays. Ross got his first score of the night on a 27 yard run with 8:08 left in the opening frame. Cesar Medina booted through the extra point for the 7-0 lead.
Later on in the first quarter Downey got on the board again this time with the defense chipping in. Noah Skobis came of the edge and blasted Cougar quarter back Nathan Manning as he was attempting to throw a pass. The ball fluttered at the line of scrimmage and was intercepted by Brennan Fields who returned it 77 yards for the score.
Up 14-0 the Vikings got their next score in quick fashion. Kijjon Foots fired the ball to the flat in the direction of Christopher Atkins on a flanker screen. The senior wide out hauled in the pass and picked up a couple blocks and was off to the races to paydirt.
Capistrano Valley got on the board late in the first half on a 3-yard pass from Manning to Michael Dyer. The touchdown completed a short 33 yard drive that was set up by a short punt from Downey.
Ross’ second score of the night put the Vikings up 28-7 with 5:28 left in the third. Faced with a fourth and two and the Capistrano Valley 26, Downey decided to go for it and put the ball in Ross’ hands. Ross got loose and went the full 26 for the score.
The Cougar’s Blake Morgan took the ensuing kickoff and outraced the Viking defender to the Downey 23. Three plays later Manning hit Matt Blethen for a 14 yard score cutting the lead to 28-14.
It was Atkins turn on the kickoff following the Cougar score. Atkins returned the ball out to the Capistrano Valley 49. Nine plays later Edward Esparza hauled in a 23 yard pass for Foots. Medina missed the extra point this time but the Vikings still led 34-14 early in the final frame.
With 7:34 remaining, the Cougars cut the Viking lead to 34-21 on a 12 yard pass from Manning to Jakey Meyer.
Needing to run more time off the clock as time was winding down, the Vikings were faced with a fourth and two at the Cougar 18. Ross took the hand off from foots and busted up the gut of the Cougar defense for 16 yards and a first down. Ross got the call again from the two yard line and scored his third touchdown of the evening and putting the final dagger into the Cougar hopes.
Capistrano Valley did drive deep into Downey territory late in the game but Manning’s pass into the endzone was picked off by the Vikings Brendan Hodge.
The Vikings will now face Cajon High School next Friday night in the Division IV Final.