Orange High School had high hopes entering Friday night's Pacific Coast League game with Laguna Beach.
A victory would assure Orange its first playoff berth since 1972 and give the Panthers a tie for the league championship.
The Panthers played a solid game, almost well enough to win, except for one thing. They couldn't stop Laguna Beach running back Jonathan Todd.
Todd was the Laguna Beach offense, scoring 4 touchdowns and rushing for 253 yards to lead the Artists to a 28-21 victory over Orange (3-1, 5-4) at Laguna Beach's Guyer Field.
In an ungraceful but powerful performance, Todd simply ran up the middle of the Orange defense, usually dragging two or three defenders with him.
Laguna Beach's offense was so predictable that Todd's jersey was practically torn in half by the third quarter, a side effect of his 39 carries.
Even with the simplified game plan, Orange was unable to contain the 5-10, 210-pound fullback.
"He finally got excited and wasn't a wimp," Laguna Beach Coach Lloyd Cotton said. "He decided he could play with an injury."
Cotton was referring to Todd's bruised shoulder, which has bothered the running back for five weeks.
Even with Todd plodding up and down the field, Laguna Beach still found itself down at halftime, 13-7.
Wide receiver Kerry Reed gave Orange a quick 7-0 lead with 9:39 left in the first quarter on a 51-yard run.
Laguna Beach drove 55 yards in 8 plays to tie the score. Todd rushed six times and caught one pass on the drive, including a one-yard touchdown run.
Orange used a trick play to take the lead as fullback Paul Maund threw a 21-yard pass to Reed with 6:56 left in the half. The extra point failed.
"I told the kids at halftime to start playing for themselves, not their coach or their mothers," Cotton said.
Laguna Beach (3-1, 8-1) took the lead for good on its opening possession of the half, with a 30-yard run by Todd, which set up his two-yard touchdown run.
Todd scored his third touchdown on the Artists' next series, scoring on a five-yard run and appeared to put the game at out of reach at 28-13 with a 14-yard run with 3:54 to play.
Maund left the game in the third quarter with a rib injury. Orange then had to turn to its passing game and was surprisingly effective as quarterback Mike Stock hit Reed on a 22-yard pass to make the score 28-19. Stock found Jeff Smith open in the end zone for the conversion.
Orange's comeback was stoppe, however, when Laguna Beach recovered an onside kick.
Laguna Hills 10, Woodbridge 3--Dave Delmonico intercepted a pass and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown with nine seconds remaining to lead the Hawks to an upset over the Warriors at Irvine Stadium.
Woodbridge (2-2, 7-2) went for a first down on fourth and four at its own 42-yard line with 18 seconds left in the game but Delmonico intercepted Eric Brougher's pass and returned it for the score.
Woodbridge led 3-0 on Keith Boothroyd's 43-yard field goal with 7:01 left in the second quarter.
Laguna Hills (1-3, 2-7) tied the score, 3-3, on a 37-yard field goal by Brian Fleming with 6:42 to play.