MISSION VIEJO — Laguna Hills stopped a two-point pass play off a fake kick with 4:44 left in the game and held on for a 27-26 victory over Yucaipa in a Southern Section Division VIII playoff game Friday night at Mission Viejo High School.
Trailing 27-20, Yucaipa marched 65 yards in 13 plays and scored when Landon Miller ran six yards to close the deficit to one point.
Yucaipa set up for the conversion kick. Quarterback Phil White came up off his knee to take the snap and pitched the ball to Miller. Miller's pass intended for Nate Ball fell incomplete.
"We thought it would work," Yucaipa coach Jim Taylor said. "It was a fake all the way and we figured if it didn't work, we would still have time to get the ball back.
"As it turns out, we were one turnover and one dumb coach's call away," Taylor said.
Actually, it was two Yucaipa turnovers that gave Laguna Hills life.
After Yucaipa made a goal-line stand to protect a 20-13 lead with 3:15 left in the third quarter, Yucaipa's John Shuffeitt fumbled the ball away on the third play after the Thunderbirds had taken over on downs. James Lawson recovered for Laguna Hills at the five. One the first play, Justin Vedder ran in for the score, but Sako Yakinian's kick failed and Laguna Hills trailed, 20-19.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Yucaipa turned the ball over again, White fumbling at the Thunderbird 48 with Lawson again recovering.
Eight plays later, Fred Kim scored his third touchdown on a one-yard run to give Laguna Hills a 25-20 lead. Vedder then threw to Jamie Maertz for the conversion to make it 27-20 with 9:13 left to play.