Bret Johnson threw for 256 yards and 2 touchdowns to lead El Toro High School to a 24-7 victory over Esperanza in a Southern Conference first-round football game Saturday at Mission Viejo High.
El Toro (9-2), the conference's fourth seed, will play Hawthorne in Friday's quarterfinals.
Johnson, who completed 11 of his 18 passes for 226 yards in the first half, gave the Chargers a 7-0 lead on the game's third play, a 55-yard touchdown pass to Chris McCarthy.
On El Toro's next offensive possession, Johnson and McCarthy connected on a 54-yard pass play, which advanced the ball to the Esperanza 14-yard line. Four plays after the pass, Ken Romaniszyn gave the Chargers a 10-0 lead with a 36-yard field goal.
Esperanza (6-4-1) narrowed El Toro's lead to 10-7 with two minutes gone in the second quarter on a 13-yard scoring pass from Jason Moler to Mike Kent.
El Toro extended its lead to 17-7 with one minute left in the half on a 21-yard touchdown run by Romaniszyn. The score climaxed a 80-yard, 10-play drive in which Johnson completed 3 passes for 69 yards.
Johnson got his second touchdown pass of the game with one minute left in the game on a six-yard toss to Adam Brass.
Although happy with his team's victory, Johnson's father, El Toro Coach Bob Johnson, was frustrated that Esperanza was able to contain Bret in the second half. Bret completed only 4 of 12 passes during that span for 30 yards.
"Our defense played an outstanding game," the coach said. "What frustrated me about this game was that they kept giving us outstanding field position throughout the contest, but we weren't able to score a lot of the time. Credit Esperanza for that."
Said Esperanza Coach Gary Meek: "We weren't able to get any rushing game going. That hurt us. Because we weren't able to run on them, we weren't able to get any type of a passing game going."
Coast Christian 36, Cal Lutheran 14: Earl Rhoades rushed for 190 yards and scored 4 touchdowns to lead Coast Christian in semifinals of the Southern Section eight-man playoffs at California Lutheran High School.
Rhoades scored twice in the first quarter on runs of one and three yards to helped give the No. 1-seeded Saints a 14-0 lead.