The MBHS Varsity football team played in one of the biggest games in school history this past Friday. After a remarkable playoff run, defeating Pioneer Valley and East Bakersfield, the Pirates made it to the CIF Championship Game. MBHS went head to head with 6-3 Taft High School in this all-important matchup. The game would take place in Taft, California, meaning this was the first away playoff game for the Pirates this year.
The game began with a Taft kickoff to Morro Bay. Almost right off the bat, junior quarterback Nicky Johnson unloaded a long pass to Christian Merrill, giving them great field position. After a few more passes, the Pirates ended up scoring with an 18-yard touchdown pass, again from Nicky to Christian. MBHS took the early 7-0 lead. Taft then had the ball next but was unable to get anything going. Sophomore Chris Nunez was able to stop all momentum for Taft with a huge tackle for loss, eventually forcing a punt. The Pirates were on fire at this point. Following yet another air attack, Nicky Johnson connected with senior running back Dylan Turner for an 11-yard touchdown. MBHS now held the lead 14-0 lead midway through the opening quarter. Taft now had a chance to answer back with some points but threw an interception on their own 19-yard line. MBHS began a strong drive, but the first quarter came to an end.
Now entering the second quarter, the Pirates had fantastic field position and were ready to put points on the board. Nicky Johnson put together a few passes, putting the Pirates on the 3-yard line. Dylan Turner then received the handoff and forced his way into the endzone. Taft now received the ball and started to gain some momentum. They strung together some short passes before running the ball into the endzone. They missed their extra point attempt, so MBHS had the lead 21-6 at halftime.
Morro Bay kicked the ball to the Taft Wildcats to begin the second half. MBHS continued their dominance in the third quarter. They accumulated two touchdowns over the 11 minute time period, with one being a 27-yard touchdown between Nicky Johnson and Dylan Turner with under a minute to go. The end of the third quarter came with a score of 35-6. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the game would become competitive again. The Taft Wildcats went wild, scoring two 1-yard touchdowns in the span of 8 minutes. They would convert on one PAT kick and fail on a two-point conversion. The score was 35-19 with just over two minutes to go in the game. Taft now had to go for an onside kick to get the ball back and score but were unsuccessful after Nicky Johnson recovered the ball. With Morro Bay in great field position with only minutes to go, it looked like the game was ready to be put away. Unfortunately, a personal foul on the Pirates made it an impossible 2nd & 40, then 3rd & 40. Morro Bay would punt with 1:27 left on the clock, up by 16. The Wildcats needed two scores in just over a minute to tie the game, and they came very close to doing so. After a long pass, the Wildcats ran the ball in from three yards out. They then proceeded to tie the game with a two-point conversion. The score was 35-27 with only seconds left. An onside kick for Taft would decide the game as if the Pirates recovered, the game was over. Taft miraculously recovered the ball, with a chance to tie the game. In movie-like fashion, the Wildcats ran the ball for a 39-yard touchdown. The score was 35-33 with essentially no time left, and Taft now had a two-point conversion try to send the game to overtime. The Pirates defense stood strong, stopping the Wildcats from tying the game. For the first time in many years, the Morro Bay Pirates were CIF Champions.
The season is not yet over for the Pirates. After that heart-pounding victory, they have moved on into the CIF Regional Championship game. They will go head to head with Loara Saxons High School (Aneheim, CA) on Friday, December 3rd. It will be a home playoff game. If the Pirates win this game, they move on to the Division 7-AA State Championship game.