CORSAIR FIELD — It was that kind of night for Samohi’s Sebastian LaRue.
The junior wide receiver scored all four of Santa Monica High School’s touchdowns en route to a 28-20 win over Channel Islands on Friday at Santa Monica College to advance to the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Western Division playoffs.
The win sets up a matchup with undefeated Ventura on Friday at SMC.
LaRue’s first score came on a kickoff
following a Channel Islands touchdown. The junior being recruited by Boise State took the kick at his own five-yard line, breaking tackles along the way to a 95-yard score that tied the game at 7-7.
Channel Islands responded with a field goal that gave them a short-lived 10-7 lead.
But, LaRue wasn’t done.
On the ensuing Samohi possession, senior quarterback Christian Salem hooked up with the speedy LaRue for an 85-yard touchdown strike that put the Vikings up for good.
LaRue would connect with Salem for two more touchdowns before the night was through.
“They were covering me one-on-one all night,” LaRue said. “They must not have wanted to win.”
The final score was closer than the game played out. The Vikings were up 28-10 late before allowing Channel Islands to score 10-straight fourth quarter points that gave the Raiders hope.
Led by senior running back Kori Garcia, Samohi was able to pick up a first down on the ground with time winding down that secured the win.
“They shut down our run all night,” Samohi head coach Travis Clark said. “I came into it knowing we were going to throw and that’s what we did. We were happy to get a couple of big throws.”
The late scores certainly didn’t please Clark, who told his team following the game that mental mistakes could spell the end to the Vikings’ playoff run. He warned them to be mindful to play four quarters next week against Ventura.
The big plays by LaRue were vexing to Channel Islands head coach Gary Porter. Besides LaRue’s pair of long touchdowns, Porter said his team could have escaped with a win. Instead, the Raiders will be going home for the season.
“We’re fighters,” Porter said. “We never quit, but those big plays were just too much for us to answer.”
He tipped his hat to Samohi, but couldn’t help but wonder what could have been.
“They were as good as I thought they were,” Porter said. “But, we could have got past them if it wasn’t for those big gains.”
The victory continues a season that has seen Samohi do big things. They won their first Ocean League title in a decade and hosted its first playoff game in that same period. Fittingly, it was 10 years ago that the Vikings won its last CIF-SS crown. A second home playoff game has Clark and company thinking a championship could be in the offing.
Coincidentally for Clark, Ventura eliminated Samohi from the third round of the playoffs 25 years ago when he was one of the Vikings’ stars.
“I was hoping that we would face [Ventura],” he said. “When I first saw the brackets that’s all I could think about.”
For his players, they are just happy to be playing this late in the fall.
“Coming up as a sophomore three years ago, picking up bags, I can’t describe how it feels,” said senior defensive back/wide receiver Dylan Muscat of the win. “Now that I’m a senior, leading the team is all that matters.”