GARDEN GROVE — One of these days--perhaps next week, for instance--the clock might strike midnight and the incantation that seems to have taken over the Woodbridge football team will disappear into thin air. But for now, the Warriors are thrilled with their newfound fortune.
For the second consecutive week, Woodbridge scored a touchdown in the waning moments of the game to pull off a playoff victory, this time 17-14 over Rancho Alamitos in the Southern Section Division VI quarterfinals Friday at Bolsa Grande High School.
The victory advances Woodbridge (8-2-1) to a semifinal game next week against No. 1-seeded Valencia (12-0), which eliminated Newport Harbor on Friday.
As happened last Friday, when quarterback James Wyatt threw a touchdown pass with 29 seconds to play to beat Brea-Olinda, the Warriors got more late-game heroics from Wyatt to survive after they seemed headed for certain defeat.
With Rancho Alamitos (9-2-1) ahead, 14-10, and in possession of the ball late in the fourth quarter, the Woodbridge defense stopped a Vaquero drive around midfield and Wyatt went to work once the Warriors got the ball.
The senior quarterback, who scored the first touchdown of the game on a 20-yard run with 1 minute 20 seconds remaining in the first quarter, opened the five-play, 75-yard, game-winning drive with a 45-yard pass to running back Glen Edwards after almost being sacked.
A five-yard run by Edwards and a 16-yard scramble by Wyatt gave the Warriors a first and goal at the Rancho Alamitos nine-yard line. On the next play, Wyatt found wide receiver Carlos Hernandez in the right corner of the end zone for a nine-yard touchdown pass play with 1:50 remaining in the game to put Woodbridge ahead for good.
Until that final Warrior drive, Rancho Alamitos had been on a roll in the fourth quarter.
The Vaqueros scored both of their touchdowns in the quarter on runs of three and two yards by tailback Jeff Byrd to take a 14-10 lead midway through the period.
In fact, the final quarter was about the only one in which the action moved along without yellow flags flying all over the place.
There were penalties galore, most against Rancho Alamitos. The Vaqueros were called for 130 yards in penalties, 100 of them in the first half. And none as big as the one called against their fullback and safety Leon Vickers, who was ejected on the third play from scrimmage for kicking Edwards after the running back had been tackled.
Without Vickers in the offensive backfield, Woodbridge keyed on Byrd--who entered the game with 1,599 rushing yards--and limited the tailback to 125 yards in 30 carries.