Football: Mission ends 57-year championship drought with Turkey Day win over Washington

Mission players celebrate after the final play of their Turkey Day win over Washington on Thursday at Kezar Stadium. (Photo by Devin Chen)

By Jeremy Balan

It was only fitting that the unlikeliest of Academic Athletic Association champions would win in one of the most unlikely ways possible.

After a dizzying sequence of events in the fourth quarter, Mission High School clinched its first AAA title since 1954 with a 12-7 win over defending champion Washington at rain-soaked Kezar Stadium on Thursday.

Mission senior running back Laron Davis breaks through the Washington defense in the AAA championship on Thursday at Kezar Stadium. (Photo by Devin Chen)

“I’m just so happy,” said second-year Mission head coach Joe Albano, who took over the team after the Bears only played three games in 2009 and had to forfeit the rest of their season. “I’ve worked at the school for 11 years and now we’re in the history book. The school has such great history and I’m so happy to bring the fans, the community and these kids a championship.”

Down 7-6 with 5:48 remaining in the game, Mission quarterback Davon Hargraves handed the ball to running back Algeron Malbrough on an apparent sweep to the right, but Malbrough tossed the ball to speedy junior Antoine Porter on a reverse and Porter beat a surprised Washington defense into the end zone for the game-winning score. Porter also had an interception early in the fourth quarter on a Washington halfback pass.

“All I saw was a wide-open lane and I hit it hard to put my team up,” Porter said. “I’ve never been through anything like this. All I know is that we came together as a team.”

Prior to the reverse, the Mission offense almost entirely ran through the middle of the field.

“It was in my bag of tricks,” Albano said. “I knew going into the game they were an over-pursuing defense. I knew they were baiting and baiting. It was just the right time.”

Mission (9-3) then inexplicably recovered the ensuing onside kick and gave the ball back to Washington (9-3) on a turnover on downs with just under two minutes remaining.

“To be honest, it wasn’t my call,” Albano said of the onside kick. “They just did it. We worked on it in practice, and I was looking away and I saw it go onside.”

Porter may have put the Bears up for good, but it was the Mission defense that proved to be the difference, and it came up large on the final Washington drive.

The Eagles got a first down with 46 seconds remaining, but three plays later, Mission senior linebacker Miles Prescott sacked Washington quarterback Aram Gevandian with just seconds left. Without any remaining timeouts, the Eagles could not run another play.

Mission held the Washington offense, which ran for over 300 yards in their regular-season meeting, to just 97 yards on the ground and 120 total.

“They took our momentum away on offense and held us scoreless, and that hasn’t happened in — I don’t even remember,” said Washington head coach Karl Finley. “I guess I’ll say they’re a dominant defense now. I didn’t say it before the game, but I’ll say it now.”

Washington senior running back Jamie McHenry works his way through the Mission defense on Thursday at Kezar Stadium. (Photo by Devin Chen)

Washington’s only score game on a 93-yard punt return from standout running back Jamie McHenry, who also had one of just two Washington gains over 10 yards with a 35-yard run in the fourth quarter.

Mission’s offense didn’t exactly blow away the Eagles either. The Bears gained 195 yards, led by 50 yards rushing from senior running back Laron Davis, which all game in the fourth quarter. Mission lost two fumbles, while Washington committed four turnovers (two interceptions and two fumbles).

“We shot our momentum a couple of times and we didn’t take advantage of our opportunities,” Finley said.

Until Porter’s score, it appeared a blocked extra point would give Washington a one-point win.

After McHenry’s touchdown and a successful extra point by Washington kicker Adam Badi, Mission answered with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Hargraves to wide receiver Demitrius Thibeaux just before the halftime break, but the extra point was blocked by Washington senior Abraham Rivera.

“That’s what football is about. One bump here, one bump there and you can lose the game,” Finley said.

Scoring Summary

First Quarter
W: 1:50 — Jamie McHenry 93-yard punt return (Adam Badi kick good)

Second Quarter
M: 0:58 — Demitrius Thibeaux 25-yard pass from Davon Hargraves (kick blocked)

Fourth Quarter
M: 5:48 — Antoine Porter 17-yard run (conversion failed)


Photo slideshow by Devin Chen

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32 Comments

  1. GCJ01 says:

    Great job Mission! You played hard all year and deserved to win the championship!

  2. Don L. says:

    This game won’t go down as a classic as both teams struggled to generate any type of offense. But good job to Mission. THeir trick plays (reverse / onside kick) succeeded where Wash’s halfback pass failed and might have turned the momentum. Mission pinning down Washington inside the 10 yard line and then a poor punt by Wash was the killer.

  3. mike smith says:

    Washington was to confident and thats wat happens 40-0 you have to be kidding me good game mission

  4. Born & raised in the Mission says:

    Great job Mission Bears!!! Very proud of you!!! :0)

  5. Mission Fan says:

    #56 from Mission should be deffence baker of the year. He has shown up out of no where but has shown what he can do. Or #4 he is fast and I like his game

  6. Mission Faithful says:

    #7 was good on both sides of the ball an got the offense running after scoring the first touchdown for the team… goodjob Mission

  7. Tonebucs says:

    Let it reign.

    Great job to the coaches and players of both teams.

    Here’s my take on the game.

    Good news: Eagles came in flying high
    Bad news: Got grounded, and da Bears pounced on ’em.

    Good news: Mission wins it’s first Turkey Day title in over 50 years.
    Bad news: Now I gotta listen to my Uncle Babe (Mission grad in the early 60’s), boast until next year,

    Winning a Turkey Day Championship feels pretty good. Enjoy it.

  8. W-HOUSE says:

    The game was not fair, Wash deserved to win but the refs made horrible calls all day. Every team gets lucky and thats what happened to Weak Mission.
    In a fair game I still say 40-0, wash win.
    The best player mission had was obviously the ref.

    • Mission Dad says:

      What are you talking about? The refs called the game fairly! Washington didn’t deserve anything. How does one deserve to win? Weren’t the TWO Mission touchdowns legit? I know that punt return by Wash was great. Don’t make an excuse about bad reffing. Deal with a fact of life and sports!!! Go Bears!!!!!

    • Mssion Dad says:

      The refs made bad call on both sides. Furthermore, Washington could never beat Mission 40-0. Keep dreaming, W-House.

    • anon says:

      LOL you mad? Great job Mission.

    • City Lights says:

      Totally agree. Obviously the refs hate random public school children for no reason so they decided “hey you know what I hate Wash, let’s take away 40 points away from them”. Congratulations sir you are headed far in life I tip my cap

  9. Mission faithful says:

    Everyone drops a couple of passes but they learn from there mistakes and after that game I’m pretty sure to say that kid is going places and he is only a junior, Wash house accept the fact wash lost to a GOOD team

  10. Humberto Diaz says:

    Give a cheer! Give a cheer! to the boys who drink the beer in the cellars of old Mission High.

    They are brave they are bold for the liquor they can hold in the cellars of old Mission High.

    Mi,Mi,Miss,Mission, MISSION!!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Wow what a poor sport whoever you are I guess you cannot just accept the lost and mission which was the better team won

  12. coach jorge says:

    W-HOUSE I hope your not a Washington football player because your making us look bad, yes there was some no calls against mission but we still had plenty of opportunities to win this game the ball just didn’t bounce our way, we lost to a good football team I tip my hat to the mission bears goof football team , but the Eagles are hungry and we will be back next year.

    • GCJ01 says:

      Well said. Sometimes people have to accept the fact that there will be days that the other team was better. I understand that it’s hard to do, especially in a championship game. Both teams had great seasons and will be successful next year as well.

  13. bearhunter says:

    wooow here i is back.. the mission bears got the turkey that slipped away lastyear.. mad props to the head coach from mission.. nice call late to get that winning td!!!!!.

  14. bearhunter says:

    now for the team. they never gave up. after wash scored.. GREAT JOB MISSION WHOLE TEAM. even the few who quit… and special shout out to them 2rb’s from wash. young nap ur a BEAST…….

  15. City Lights says:

    Good job I was pulling for you all season, nice to see a championship go to a program that was struggling just a couple years ago. Nothing like winning a ring on your senior year, Mission players enjoy it now because this is a memory that will last forever

  16. player/coach says:

    gents yall are debaten whether the refs gave a team the game??? coaches coach, players play, and refs make calls – its they job! its up to the players to leave no doubt, and take the element of the refs maken calls out. even tbough i didnt see the game yall bickeren tells me what happened. Im wash house alumi, played in t day in 93 & coach @ mission for 4 yrs – wash was overconfident and when things didnt go they way people started lookn for a reason & why not put it on the refs cuz mission aint supposed to b winnin- congrats bears …. eagles get cha mind right for next year!

    • T&F Coach says:

      well written @player/coach

    • W-HOUSE says:

      The refs were not FAIRLY reffing.
      WASH 40- 0 mission could have been the score but the refs screwed us.
      Mission can enjoy their dirty win this year because next year there might actually be referees at Turkey Day.

      • GCJ01 says:

        It’s a shame that you can’t accept the fact that Wash lost. The better team showed up on Turkey Day; just like the better team showed up when Wash beat Mission the first time they played.

        Look at it this way, Washington made it to the championships two years in a row and can possibly make it three in a row next year. Wash and Mission are the two dominant teams in the AAA right now. That’s something that you can be proud of. Wash had a undefeated season, and only lost one game last year.

        Washington has finished in first place the last three years (since 2009) and have amassed an astonishing 21-4 league record in that time span. Wash shouldn’t be ashame to have lossed in the championships. Without a doubt, Wash has been the most dominant football team in the AAA the last three years. Just keep this in mind.

      • Anonymous says:

        how so?

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