Laguna Beach High School clinched the Pacific Coast League championship, the school's first title since 1980, with a 24-17 victory over Woodbridge Friday night at Irvine Stadium.
It was Woodbridge's first loss of the season. Both schools finish the regular season at 9-1, but Laguna Beach winds up 5-0 in league, a game ahead of Woodbridge (4-1).
Artist quarterback Danny Lane paced the victory, completing 17 of 29 passes for 205 yards and 1 interception. Lane, the county's No. 2-rated quarterback, threw three touchdown passes, including the game-winner, a five-yarder to Robbie Warmington in the fourth period.
Defensively, Laguna Beach defense shut down Woodbridge's running game, holding John Rios, who has gained 760 yards this season, to just 22 yards in 11 carries.
The Artists also gave up just one offensive touchdown, a surprise option play by the Warriors in the second quarter. Quarterback Fred Schweer pitched the back to receiver Derrick Odum, who connected with wide receiver Dax Jordan for an 84-yard touchdown.
The Artists' margin of victory could have been greater. Laguna Beach had scored in the first half on a 52-yard field goal by Jason Crabbe and two touchdown passes from Lane to tight end Pete Schmitt, giving the Artists a 17-7 lead. But a controversial timekeeping episode at the end of the first half allowed Woodbridge to score a field goal and move within a touchdown of Laguna Beach.
With nine seconds on the clock and Woodbridge facing with first-and-10 on the Laguna 34-yard line, Schweer threw an incomplete pass and the clock stopped with five seconds left to play. But the officials asked the timekeeper to set the clock back to 10 seconds.
The official explanation was that five seconds had been lost on two earlier plays, seconds that eventually benefitted Woodbridge. On the next play, Schweer completed an eight-yard pass to Jimmy Burke but the clock moved in reverse, adding eight seconds instead of subtracting them.
Finally, the mistake was corrected, leaving two seconds instead of 18, and amid the confusion, Jeff Smith kicked a 43-yard field goal.
"I was a teeny bit (miffed)," said Lyman Olney, Laguna Beach coach. "But it's past. It was the kids that reached out and got it."
In the second half, the Artists drove to the Warrior 23-yard line, setting up another field-goal attempt by Crabbe. But Warrior Chad MacCaulay blocked the kick and Ryan Nash picked up the ball, returning it 75 yards for a touchdown to tie the game, 17-17.
The rest of the second half was a defensive battle. Laguna Beach retaliated by blocking a a Woodbridge punt and was able to hold off the Warriors.
With 5:52 left the play, Lane hit Warmington with a five-yard touchdown pass for the winning score.