SPRING VALLEY Monte Vista built a three-touchdown halftime lead over La Jolla before falling behind by a field goal and trailing midway through the fourth quarter.
But three late TD runs gave the top-seeded Monarchs a 41-24 win and a trip to the San Diego Section Division IV title game Dec. 7 against Sweetwater.
Before hosting La Jolla in Friday’s semifinal, Monte Vista coach Ron Hamamoto compared the teams’ contrasting styles to those of Stanford and Oregon.
“Our team talked about that a little bit. La Jolla plays an up-tempo spread offense like Oregon while we run power and play tough defense like Stanford,” said Hamamoto, who recorded his 200th career win.
While Hamamoto knew the styles were similar to those of Stanford and Oregon, he couldn’t have known that the result would be so similar. Like Stanford, Monte Vista built a big lead only to see La Jolla make a comeback.
After taking 21-0 halftime advantage, Monte Vista (7-5) saw its lead erased quickly when La Jolla (5-7) scored 24 unanswered points in the third quarter.
“It was crazy, I didn’t expect them to come out hard like that in the second half,” said Monte Vista senior running back Jemeil Jackson. “I thought we were just going to keep running them down, because that’s what we do.”
The Monarchs finally stopped the Vikings’ rally and scored 20 points in the last six minutes of the game.
Jaqui Morris scored on a 28-yard run with just over six minutes remaining to give the lead back to Monte Vista for good. Jackson added TD runs of 28 and 57 yards to ice the victory.
Monte Vista built its early lead on TD runs by Eric Collins and Lee Wade and a scoring throw from Thomas Walker to Jesse Rivas.