Mission Hills quarterback Connor Wynn airs one out.
In making history, the Mission Hills football team proved history can repeat itself.
For the second time this season, turnovers proved to be the difference in a game between Oceanside and Mission Hills.
In Week 5, six turnovers helped Mission Hills to a win.
Monday night in Qualcomm Stadium in the first San Diego Section Open Division championship, Mission Hills turned three Oceanside turnovers into 17 points as the Grizzlies beat the Pirates 36-14.
The championship is the first for Mission Hills in four tries since the school opened 10 years ago. Two of those losses were to Oceanside, the other last year to Eastlake.
Oceanside had won nine of the last 10 championship games in which it has appeared and 12 of 15.
“When you play a team like that, you can’t make turnovers,” said Oceanside assistant head coach Rick Girardi. “We did that again.
“A good team, and they’re a good team, makes you pay for mistakes. It was a 14-10 game and we had a couple of bad decisions and now we’re down a few scores.
“When you have success, expectations are very high. Getting here isn’t what we set out to do. We came to win it.”
Mission Hills (12-1) running back/linebacker Ricky Liuchan was the key player for the Grizzlies. He had 20 carries for 114 yards and scored on a 30-yard interception return.
“You always remember your first championship,” said Liuchan. “The coaches told me early in the week I’d be more involved on offense, but my heart is on defense.
“We have so much respect for Oceanside, so we wanted to come out and play smashmouth football with them — and things went our way.”
Oceanside (10-3) led 14-10 at the half, but Mission Hills struck first in the second half, scoring on a 22-yard pass from Connor Wynn to Scott Higgins, who made a spectacular, one-handed catch in the back of the end zone.
One play after that score, Liuchan stepped in front of an Oceanside receiver and raced 30 yards to the end zone with the interception.
The Pirates fumbled on their next possession and Mission Hills’ Esteban Senteno recovered. Senteno capped that drive with a 22-yard field goal.
The senior finished the night with two field goals, seven tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery.
A bad snap on a punt rolled out of the end zone and cost Oceanside two points. And the Grizzlies finished the scoring with a 14-yard TD pass from Wynn to Fred Warner.
Wynn, whose brother Jordan led Oceanside to a state championship in 2007, oddly beating Mission Hills for the San Diego Section title, was 15-of-28 passing for 191 yards.
“It feels great to finally know what my brother felt after his two CIF titles,” Connor Wynn said. “This feels beyond what I thought it would feel like. I always thought this could happen. My feet still haven’t touched the ground yet.”
Oceanside had 258 yards total offense — 141 passing and 117 rushing.
“We’ve come up short three times,” said Mission Hills coach Chris Hauser. “It was a privilege to play Oceanside.
“Honestly, when you beat the best team in the county, it validates your program.”