By Bonta Hill
Over the course of its first four Academic Athletic Association games, Mission High School’s defense didn’t allow a touchdown.
While the Bears were able to solve the offenses of Marshall, Balboa, Burton and Galileo, they had no answer for Washington’s powerful rushing attack on Friday.
The Eagles turned a first-place showdown into a one-sided affair, throttling the visiting Bears 28-7, as senior running backs Lajarie Mabrey and Jamie McHenry combined for 305 yards rushing and had two touchdowns apiece.
“Overall, I think this is one of the better games [we played all season],” said Washington head coach Karl Finley. “We’re a very good team, but we haven’t peaked yet. I think we’re getting closer to becoming a great team.”
While Mabrey and McHenry did the heavy lifting for Washington’s offense, the Mission (5-3, 4-1) backfield tandem of Algeron Malbrough, Davon Hargraves and Antoine Porter was unable to get loose against a stout Washington (6-2, 5-0) defense, which limited the Bears to 151 yards of total offense.
McHenry, who rushed for 118 yards on 12 carries, got Washington started when he took the Eagles’ second play from scrimmage 51 yards to the Mission 10-yard line. He scored two plays later on a 4-yard run to open the game’s scoring.
The Eagles were held scoreless for over two quarters after McHenry’s first score, until Mabrey, who ran for 187 yards on 27 carries, broke a 75-yard touchdown run through the teeth of the Mission defense to give the Eagles a 13-0 lead in the third quarter.
“[Lajarie and McHenry] work [really] well together,” Finley said. “If one doesn’t get the ball he blocks for the guy who is getting the ball. They don’t care who gets the most carries.”
Mission struck next on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Hargraves to Porter to cut the Washington lead to 13-7 with 5:13 remaining in the third quarter, and after forcing a Washington punt on the next drive, the Bears appeared to seize momentum.
But a Hargraves fumble sucked all the energy out of the Bears’ sideline and the Eagles capitalized on the fumble recovery immediately, when McHenry scored on a 35-yard run down the right sideline early in the fourth quarter.
“It was a little bit of everything today,” said Mission head coach Joe Albano said. “With a good team like that, you’re not going to win that way.”
Albano stressed that the loss was only a single game in a long season, but was not pleased with the Bears’ week of preparation.
“Hopefully this is a good learning lesson, because we had a horrible week of practice and today was an outcome of that,” Albano said. “When you don’t put the effort in during the week, [you lose], and that’s what happened.”
W: 10:30 — Jamie McHenry 4-yard run (Aram Gevandian kick good)
W: 8:06 — Lajarie Mabrey 75-yard run (kick failed)
M: 5:13 — Antoine Porter 15-yard pass from Davon Hargraves (kick good)
W: 11:30 — McHenry 35-yard run (Vincent Chen run on conversion)
W: 2:01 — Mabrey 6-yard run (Gevandian kick good)