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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

Prayers almost answered for Los Angeles Arleta

The Mustangs score a potentially game-tying touchdown on a last-second Hail Mary against Woodland Hills El Camino Real, but a botched snap on kept the Conquistadores 21-20 lead intact.

December 06, 2009|By Ben Bolch

No time left on the clock, ball at midfield, down by a touchdown.

Game over for Los Angeles Arleta? Turns out the excitement had just begun Friday night in the Mustangs' City Section Division II semifinal against Woodland Hills El Camino Real.

Arleta scored on a 50-yard Hail Mary pass from quarterback Bryan Choto to Antonio Bray to pull to within a point of the Conquistadores.

Get ready for overtime? Not so fast.

"Immediately I was looking to their sideline and saw they were scrambling around and they didn't look like they were going to kick a PAT," said El Camino Real Coach Kevin Williams on Saturday. "They seemed to be in a pretty big hurry to get the play off. Maybe they thought they would catch us off guard."

But Arleta, with backup Albert Sandoval at quarterback after Choto was injured on the touchdown pass, botched the snap and was stuffed in the backfield, giving El Camino Real a breathless 21-20 victory.

"I'm just starting to recover now," Williams said a day later.

Third-seeded El Camino Real (12-1) will play fourth-seeded Los Angeles Hamilton (10-3) in the championship game Friday at East Los Angeles College.

The Conquistadores thought the drama was over before the final play against Arleta. Running back Ra'Shon Harper scored from inside the five-yard line with 17 seconds left to give El Camino Real a 21-14 lead.

After getting the ball near their 35-yard line following the kickoff, the Mustangs ran a couple of unsuccessful plays and the game momentarily appeared over until a facemasking penalty on El Camino Real gave Arleta one more chance from midfield.

"We thought it was one more play and we were done," Williams said.

Turns out the teams needed two.

Bowled over?

Vista Murrieta's 34-33 comeback victory over Norco in an Inland Division semifinal puts the undefeated Broncos in position to contend for a berth in the state championship Division I bowl game.

Should Vista Murrieta win its division title next week, the Mustangs would likely have to contend with currently unbeaten Oceanside and Valencia for the bowl slot, provided those teams also win their respective championships.

Huntington Beach Edison would likely be selected for the open-division bowl game should the Chargers win the Pac-5 Division. If Lakewood won the Pac-5, section commissioners might have to choose between the one-loss Lancers and several unbeaten teams from lower divisions.

Vista Murrieta's comeback from a 27-7 deficit against Norco was completed when quarterback Derrick Brown completed a 32-yard touchdown pass to Casey Marquez on fourth and seven with little more than two minutes left in the game.

Quick hits

Mission Hills Alemany advanced to its first section title game in the school's 53-year history following a 35-24 victory over Compton Dominguez in a Western Division semifinal. Malcolm Marable rushed for 120 yards and four touchdowns for the Warriors, who had reached the semifinal round last season before losing to Quartz Hill. . . . La Mirada pulled out a 27-24 overtime victory against Laguna Hills in a Southern Division semifinal when defensive end R.J. Lujan recovered a fumble at the five-yard line in the extra period. Trailing, 24-10, Laguna Hills had forced overtime by scoring a two touchdowns in the final three minutes.

ben.bolch@latimes.com

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