La Habra wins CIF-SS football title on Hail Mary finish

La Habra High School’s quest for its seventh CIF Southern Section title looked over. Done. Kaput.

But nothing is over when Eric Barriere is your quarterback. He proved it earlier in a final-second win over Los Alamitos and did it again Friday, tossing 27 yards to Prince Ross to give the Highlanders an unbelievable 39-36 victory over San Clemente to win the Southwest Division title at Cerritos College.

Barriere accounted for 386 yards and five touchdowns for La Habra, which improved to 13-1 and earned a spot in next week’s CIF State Regional bowl games. San Clemente, getting 252 yards and three touchdowns from Jack Sears, finished 11-3.

“It was like the win over Los Alamitos,” Barriere said. “I had to buy time. I just threw it up and another mircacle happened, and (Ross) caught it. And we won the championship.”

VIDEO: Highlights form La Habra’s 39-36 win

La Habra’s chances looked dead late after Sears guided the Tritons 86 yards and gave them a 36-33 lead with a 4-yard pass to Brandon Reaves with 20 seconds left.

La Habra then returned the kick to its 44 and got the ball at San Clemente’s 41 after a 15-yard penalty. Barriere completed a pass to the 27 before he rolled right with five seconds left. He then lofted a pass toward the northeast corner and Ross made a diving catch to win it.

“The last play; it was amazing,” Ross said. “Eric had to find me. Eric rolled out, he threw the ball and I caught it.

“There’s nothing better than to win the championship like this. It was amazing.”

La Habra looked to have the game secure early in the fourth quarter.

The Highlanders, after giving up a 79-yard drive to San Clemente for a 21-14 deficit, countered with back-to-back scoring plays by Barriere. The senior tossed 84 yards to Ross on a catch and run before Barriere ran 38 yards for a 27-21 lead.

CJ Taylor, who rushed for 148 yards, made it 33-21 with 11:54 left.

Sears followed with a 27-yard run to make it 33-29 with 8:54 to play before throwing the 4-yard pass to Reaves with 20 seconds left.

Barriere then followed with his heroics.

“We have belief in ourselves,” Barriere said. “Once they scored, we said we can still score. Our team believed we could still score and we end up scoring. I just want to thank God for blessing us with another victory. It’s amazing.”

The game was tied at 14 at halftime.

San Clemente forced a fumble inside its 10 late in the second quarter, then drove 91 yards to tie with three seconds left in the half.

The big play was an 27-yard option pass from Keith Jones to Eldridge at the La Habra 26. Sears followed with a scramble to the 8 before throwing 2 yards to Eldridge to tie it at 14.

La Habra was looking good early, scoring on its first two drives. The Highlanders, who had 210 yards in the first half, opened the game with a 71-yard drive and took a 7-0 lead on 30-yard pass from Barriere to Amon Fellows at 8:32 of the first quarter.

Barriere, after San Clemente tied it at 7, drove La Habra 80 yards gave the Highlanders a 14-7 lead with a 9-yard pass to Ross at 11:15 of the second. He set it up with a 16-yard pass to Fellows at the Tritons’ 11 on a fourth and 10.

San Clemente, after La Habra took its early lead, scored its first touchdown on an 80-yard drive. Brandon Reaves, who rushed for 50 yards in the first half, capped it with a 1-yard run.


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