San Clemente can’t keep up with Rancho Cucamonga in second half

  • San Clemente’s Quarterback #3 Brendan Costello makes his way through Rancho defense during Friday night’s varsity football game between San Clemente and Rancho Cucamonga High Schools, Nov. 10, 2017. (Eric Reed/For The Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

    San Clemente’s Quarterback #3 Brendan Costello makes his way through Rancho defense during Friday night’s varsity football game between San Clemente and Rancho Cucamonga High Schools, Nov. 10, 2017. (Eric Reed/For The Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • San Clemente’s #88 Chris Kane makes a touchdown run during Friday night’s varsity football game between San Clemente and Rancho Cucamonga High Schools, Nov. 10, 2017. (Eric Reed/For The Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

    San Clemente’s #88 Chris Kane makes a touchdown run during Friday night’s varsity football game between San Clemente and Rancho Cucamonga High Schools, Nov. 10, 2017. (Eric Reed/For The Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • San Clemente’s Quarterback #3 Brendan Costello looks for the pass during Friday night’s varsity football game between San Clemente and Rancho Cucamonga High Schools, Nov. 10, 2017. (Eric Reed/For The Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

    San Clemente’s Quarterback #3 Brendan Costello looks for the pass during Friday night’s varsity football game between San Clemente and Rancho Cucamonga High Schools, Nov. 10, 2017. (Eric Reed/For The Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • San Clemente’s #33 Austin Whitsett is taken down by Rancho defense during Friday night’s varsity football game between San Clemente and Rancho Cucamonga High Schools, Nov. 10, 2017. (Eric Reed/For The Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

    San Clemente’s #33 Austin Whitsett is taken down by Rancho defense during Friday night’s varsity football game between San Clemente and Rancho Cucamonga High Schools, Nov. 10, 2017. (Eric Reed/For The Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • San Clemente’s #33 Austin Whitsett runs the ball during Friday night’s varsity football game between San Clemente and Rancho Cucamonga High Schools, Nov. 10, 2017. (Eric Reed/For The Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

    San Clemente’s #33 Austin Whitsett runs the ball during Friday night’s varsity football game between San Clemente and Rancho Cucamonga High Schools, Nov. 10, 2017. (Eric Reed/For The Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Rancho’s #35 Dylan Beridon is taken down by San Clemente’s #44 Riley Croft during Friday night’s varsity football game between San Clemente and Rancho Cucamonga High Schools, Nov. 10, 2017. (Eric Reed/For The Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

    Rancho’s #35 Dylan Beridon is taken down by San Clemente’s #44 Riley Croft during Friday night’s varsity football game between San Clemente and Rancho Cucamonga High Schools, Nov. 10, 2017. (Eric Reed/For The Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • San Clemente’s #26 Bryce Wilson looks for a way passed Rancho defense during Friday night’s varsity football game between San Clemente and Rancho Cucamonga High Schools, Nov. 10, 2017. (Eric Reed/For The Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

    San Clemente’s #26 Bryce Wilson looks for a way passed Rancho defense during Friday night’s varsity football game between San Clemente and Rancho Cucamonga High Schools, Nov. 10, 2017. (Eric Reed/For The Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Rancho’s Quarterback #10 Nick Acosta is run out of bounds by San Clemente’s #7 Rob Farney during Friday night’s varsity football game between San Clemente and Rancho Cucamonga High Schools, Nov. 10, 2017. (Eric Reed/For The Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

    Rancho’s Quarterback #10 Nick Acosta is run out of bounds by San Clemente’s #7 Rob Farney during Friday night’s varsity football game between San Clemente and Rancho Cucamonga High Schools, Nov. 10, 2017. (Eric Reed/For The Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • San Clemente’s Quarterback #3 Brendan Costello looks to if the pass to #7 Rob Farney is complete, he was out of bounds on the catch, during Friday night’s varsity football game between San Clemente and Rancho Cucamonga High Schools, Nov. 10, 2017. (Eric Reed/For The Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

    San Clemente’s Quarterback #3 Brendan Costello looks to if the pass to #7 Rob Farney is complete, he was out of bounds on the catch, during Friday night’s varsity football game between San Clemente and Rancho Cucamonga High Schools, Nov. 10, 2017. (Eric Reed/For The Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Rancho’s Quarterback #10 Nick Acosta looked for the pass during Friday night’s varsity football game between San Clemente and Rancho Cucamonga High Schools, Nov. 10, 2017. (Eric Reed/For The Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

    Rancho’s Quarterback #10 Nick Acosta looked for the pass during Friday night’s varsity football game between San Clemente and Rancho Cucamonga High Schools, Nov. 10, 2017. (Eric Reed/For The Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Rancho’s #6 Kamar Brown looses his footing during Friday night’s varsity football game between San Clemente and Rancho Cucamonga High Schools, Nov. 10, 2017. (Eric Reed/For The Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

    Rancho’s #6 Kamar Brown looses his footing during Friday night’s varsity football game between San Clemente and Rancho Cucamonga High Schools, Nov. 10, 2017. (Eric Reed/For The Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Rancho’s #31 chases a failed kick during Friday night’s varsity football game between San Clemente and Rancho Cucamonga High Schools, Nov. 10, 2017. (Eric Reed/For The Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

    Rancho’s #31 chases a failed kick during Friday night’s varsity football game between San Clemente and Rancho Cucamonga High Schools, Nov. 10, 2017. (Eric Reed/For The Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • San Clemente’s kicker #6Charles Bein takes his kickoff during Friday night’s varsity football game between San Clemente and Rancho Cucamonga High Schools, Nov. 10, 2017. (Eric Reed/For The Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

    San Clemente’s kicker #6Charles Bein takes his kickoff during Friday night’s varsity football game between San Clemente and Rancho Cucamonga High Schools, Nov. 10, 2017. (Eric Reed/For The Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Rancho running back #24 Justyn Alexander makes a touchdown run during Friday night’s varsity football game between San Clemente and Rancho Cucamonga High Schools, Nov. 10, 2017. (Eric Reed/For The Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

    Rancho running back #24 Justyn Alexander makes a touchdown run during Friday night’s varsity football game between San Clemente and Rancho Cucamonga High Schools, Nov. 10, 2017. (Eric Reed/For The Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA – Rancho  Cucamonga football coach Nick Baiz knew there was no such thing as an easy CIF-SS first-round playoff game – not in Division 1.

His Cougars got the benefit of a home game but the opposition came in the form of San Clemente, which won a CIF-SS title in Division 2 last year and went on to win a state title as well.

The Cougars played a superb second half and went on to a 28-10 win Friday night that earns them a quarterfinal berth against St. John Bosco, a 35-21 winner over Bishop Amat.

The Cougars (10-1) sputtered in the first half and trailed 10-7 but dominated in the third quarter and never looked back.

“They’re (San Clemente) a very good football team so to come out and win this one is big,” Baiz said. “We struggled in the first half and really couldn’t get the ball moving. And we had bad field position so it was a little bit of everything. ”

The Cougars trailed going into the locker room and players admitted they were a bit down. That all changed when they got the go-ahead touchdown on their second possession of the third quarter.

Rancho marched 96 yards on just eight plays with Nick Acosta throwing a 12-yard scoring pass to Kamar Brown. The Cougars had gained most of the yardage on that drive on the ground, the biggest play being a 38-yard run by Justyn Alexander that got the ball to the 12.

The Cougars scored on the next play.

The Rancho defense, led by senior linebacker Roy Wiley,  stepped up and held the Tritons (9-2) without a first down on their next three possessions which turned the field position to their advantage.

They needed to go just 57 yards for their third touchdown a 6-yard run by Alexander that capped a six-play drive that made it 21-10 with 1:07 left in the third quarter. The big play of that sequence was a 26-yard gain by Sean Dollars.

“We were hungry for this,” Alexander said. “We wanted to come out there and be aggressive in the second half and that’s what we did.”

The fourth quarter was much the same as the third with Rancho moving the chains, controling the clock and the ball.

The final touchdown came on a 16-yard run by Dollars.

“Their defense did a good job in the second half,” San Clemente coach Jaime Ortiz said. “We couldn’t move the ball and they got the momentum on their side and never really lost it.”

San Clemente struck first and did so gambling for the second time in the game. On a fourth-and-7 at the Rancho 38 quarterback Brendan Costello hit Chris Kane with a perfect strike. That came after the Cougars stiffened on a fourth-and-1 at their own 45.

It didn’t take long for Rancho to answer. Jacari Williams went 73 yards with the ensuing kickoff, getting down to the Tritons 25. Alexander ran it in from there to tie the contest.

San Clemente finished with 249 total yards, with Austin Whitsett running for 71 on 17 carries although the majority of that came in the first half. Costello threw for 168 with Kane catching five passes for 90 yards.

Rancho Cucamonga tallied 313 total yards, 230 of that on the ground. Dollars ran for 116 yards on 13 tries while Alexander had nine carries for 108 yards.

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San Clemente stays on track for title shot by rolling over San Juan Hills

  • San Juan Hills' Ryan Canary carries the ball during a league game against San Clemente at San Juan Hills High on Friday, October 20, 2017. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

    San Juan Hills’ Ryan Canary carries the ball during a league game against San Clemente at San Juan Hills High on Friday, October 20, 2017. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • San Clemente quarterback Brendan Costello, left, runs with the ball during a quarterback keeper play in a league game against San Juan Hills on Friday, October 20, 2017. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

    San Clemente quarterback Brendan Costello, left, runs with the ball during a quarterback keeper play in a league game against San Juan Hills on Friday, October 20, 2017. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • San Clemente quarterback Brendan Costello runs with the ball during a quarterback keeper play in a league game against San Juan Hills on Friday, October 20, 2017. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

    San Clemente quarterback Brendan Costello runs with the ball during a quarterback keeper play in a league game against San Juan Hills on Friday, October 20, 2017. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • San Clemente's RJ Donaldson catches the ball during their South Coast League game against San Juan Hills at San Juan Hills High School on Friday, October 20, 2017. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

    San Clemente’s RJ Donaldson catches the ball during their South Coast League game against San Juan Hills at San Juan Hills High School on Friday, October 20, 2017. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • San Clemente students, wearing all pink, cheer on the Tritons during a football game at San Juan Hills High School on Friday night, October 20, 2017. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

    San Clemente students, wearing all pink, cheer on the Tritons during a football game at San Juan Hills High School on Friday night, October 20, 2017. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • San Juan Hills students, wearing all black, hold up their cell phone flashlights while cheering on the Stallions during a home football game against San Clemente on October 20, 2017. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

    San Juan Hills students, wearing all black, hold up their cell phone flashlights while cheering on the Stallions during a home football game against San Clemente on October 20, 2017. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • San Clemente students, wearing all pink, cheer on the Tritons during a football game at San Juan Hills High School on Friday night, October 20, 2017. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

    San Clemente students, wearing all pink, cheer on the Tritons during a football game at San Juan Hills High School on Friday night, October 20, 2017. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • San Juan Hills student Vagelie Guillen runs with the school flag on a smoke-filled field before the start of a football game against San Clemente on Friday night, October 20, 2017. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

    San Juan Hills student Vagelie Guillen runs with the school flag on a smoke-filled field before the start of a football game against San Clemente on Friday night, October 20, 2017. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • San Clemente quarterback Brendan Costello throws the ball during a South Coast League game against San Juan Hills on Friday, October 20, 2017. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

    San Clemente quarterback Brendan Costello throws the ball during a South Coast League game against San Juan Hills on Friday, October 20, 2017. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • San Juan Hills wide receiver Travis Lau stretches for a touchdown during a South Coast League game against San Clemente at San Juan Hills High on Friday, October 20, 2017. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

    San Juan Hills wide receiver Travis Lau stretches for a touchdown during a South Coast League game against San Clemente at San Juan Hills High on Friday, October 20, 2017. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • San Clemente quarterback Brendan Costello throws the ball while on the run during a South Coast League game against San Juan Hills on Friday, October 20, 2017. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

    San Clemente quarterback Brendan Costello throws the ball while on the run during a South Coast League game against San Juan Hills on Friday, October 20, 2017. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • San Clemente quarterback Brendan Costello, right, throws the ball while on the run during a South Coast League game against San Juan Hills on Friday, October 20, 2017. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

    San Clemente quarterback Brendan Costello, right, throws the ball while on the run during a South Coast League game against San Juan Hills on Friday, October 20, 2017. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • San Clemente's RJ Donaldson carries the ball during a South Coast League game at San Juan Hills High School on Friday, October 20, 2017. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

    San Clemente’s RJ Donaldson carries the ball during a South Coast League game at San Juan Hills High School on Friday, October 20, 2017. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

  • San Juan Hills quarterback Matt Rodriguez throws the ball during a South Coast League game against San Clemente on Friday, October 20, 2017. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

    San Juan Hills quarterback Matt Rodriguez throws the ball during a South Coast League game against San Clemente on Friday, October 20, 2017. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)

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SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO – If San Clemente is to compete with Mission Viejo for the South Coast League championship, they needed to beat San Juan Hills on Friday.

The Tritons did so, and convincingly.

They defeated the Stallions, 31-13, in a league game at San Juan Hills High.
San Clemente is 8-0 overall and 2-0 in the South Coast League. Mission Viejo is one-half game ahead of San Clemente with its 3-0 league record.

San Clemente plays Mission Viejo on Nov. 3, the final day of the regular season. Mission Viejo is the last team to beat San Clemente before the Tritons went on their run to CIF-Southern Section and CIF State championships. San Clemente next plays Trabuco Hills in a league home game next Friday, Oct. 27.

San Juan Hills plays at Tesoro next Friday, Oct. 27, in the Stallions’ final game of the regular season. They have a bye on Week 10, the final week of the regular season. The playoffs begin Nov. 10; if they qualify, San Clemente would play in Division 1, San Juan Hills in Division 4.

San Clemente senior running back Austin Whitsett rushed for 172 and two touchdowns on 19 carries. He scored on runs of 73 and 33 yards. The Tritons also got touchdown runs of 3 yards by quarterback Brendan Costello and 66 yards by Sean Turcotte, and a 21-yard field goal by Tristan Trager.

Costello, a junior, completed 16 of 20 passes for 114 yards to eight different receives. Only two of his completions were for more than 9 yards.

San Juan Hills senior quarterback Matt Rodriguez threw two touchdown passes.

Whitsett scored on his 73-yard run on the game’s third play from scrimmage for a 7-0 lead for the Tritons.

San Juan Hills’ first drive yielded their first touchdown. They maneuvered 80 yards on 13 plays, with Rodriguez passing to receiver Travis Lau for a 9-yard touchdown. The extra-point kick was no good and San Clemente had a 7-6 lead.

San Clemente used up all of the final 10:32 of the second quarter on one drive. The Tritons, starting from their 20-yard line, used 18 plays to arrive at a first down at the San Juan Hills 5-yard line. A pass and two running plays got only two yards, so San Clemente had to settle for Tristan Trager’s 21-yard field goal as the first half expired for a 10-6 lead.

The Tritons made it 17-6 on Costello’s touchdown run, pushed the lead to 24-6 on Whitsett’s 33-yard touchdown, and put the game away, 31-6, on Turcotte’s touchdown.

San Juan Hills was without several starters because of a series of injuries, of which Stallions coach Aaron Flowers said, “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

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