Football: Mission knocks Washington out of AAA playoffs in regular-season finale
By Matthew Snyder
The Mission High School football team scored on five of its first six possessions, racked up 448 yards of total offense and jumped out to a 34-6 halftime lead en route to a comprehensive 41-20 Academic Athletic Association road victory over Washington on Friday.
Mission’s (6-3, 5-1) swarming, hard-hitting defense forced three Washington (2-7, 2-4) turnovers, blocked a field goal and limited the Eagles’ offense to just 86 total yards before head coach Joe Albano called off his first-team defense midway through the third quarter.
Mission senior cornerback Demitrius Thibeaux had two interceptions and returned the second 80 yards for a score in the third quarter.
Meanwhile, Mission’s talented offensive duo of quarterback Antoine Porter and running back Armani McFarland flummoxed the Washington defense. The Eagles succeeded in getting pressure on Porter in the backfield, but the senior frequently danced and skipped his way out of trouble to earn positive yardage.
Porter and McFarland combined for four touchdowns, including touchdown passes of 46 and 47 yards.
McFarland, who has struggled with injuries for much of the season, had his right knee examined and taped before the game, but showed no signs that the knee bothered him once the game started.
Porter felt the Bears had something to prove after last week’s disappointing 42-14 defeat against Lincoln, their first loss of the AAA season.
“It felt like we took a whole step backward in development,” Porter said. “We had to look ourselves in the eyes and see where we really wanted to go forward with this team — if we wanted to be a championship team or if we wanted to be just another team that was good, but couldn’t make it.”
Both Porter and Albano felt that Mission could have played better against Washington – particularly in the second half, when they failed to score an offensive touchdown – but the Bears were dominant on the ground, rushing for 314 yards.
“We just needed to get our run game going,” Albano said. “I felt like the past two weeks, our linemen weren’t really pushing guys off the ball and driving the guys off the ball, and creating holes. I think we did that a little bit today. We didn’t score any offensive points in the second half, but it’s not like I was trying to go crazy, anyway.”
The loss assured Washington would miss the AAA playoffs for the first time since 2006, but head coach Taylan Plasch was happy with his team’s second-half response, highlighted by sophomore running back Quincy Smith’s 68-yard touchdown run.
“I thought we played better,” Plasch said. “We were trying to go out with a bang. We watched the Lincoln-Mission game and we saw how hard they played, and we tried to match their intensity, but the scoreboard tells you something else. It’s frustrating. It was a down year for the program and hopefully we can take what we learned this year and focus it on next year. If we can do that, we’ll be a better team.”
M: 7:09 – Armani McFarland 46-yard pass from Antoine Porter (kick failed)
M: 1:09 – McFarland 4-yard run (Demitrius Thibeaux pass from Porter on conversion)
M: 10:31 – Matthew Yee 77-yard run (Peter Lee kick)
M: 3:16 – Porter 4-yard run (Lee kick)
M: 2:00 – McFarland 47-yard pass from Porter (kick failed)
W: 0:38 – Simon Ma 1-yard run (conversion failed)
M: 2:42 – Thibeaux 80-yard interception return (Lee kick)
W: 0:34 – Quincy Smith 68-yard run (Thomas Flores pass from Ma on conversion)
W: 1:40 – Mondo Bayasqalon 10-yard run (conversion failed)