CARSON -- No Jahleel Pinner, no problem for unfazed Mission Viejo.
An ankle sprain limited Pinner to cheering duty and the Diablos' leading rusher had plenty to root for, as Mission Viejo breezed past Carson, 31-0, on Friday night. The replacements, Marcus Collins and Daniel Marx, combined for 164 yards of total offense while filling in for the USC commit.
"We have guys that can step in," Mission Viejo quarterback Alex Bridgford said. "Marcus Collins stepped in very well and Daniel Marx, who we got back from a concussion, is a great player. He's huge, he's fast, he's a hard worker ... and he's just a sophomore."
Bridgford did his part, too, bouncing back from a shaky first half to finish with 207 yards and three touchdowns on 7 of 18 passing. D.J. Wilson, the Diablos' other dynamic weapon, had only two receptions -- one of 75 yards and another of 27 -- but he reached the end zone on both.
Mission Viejo (4-1), the No. 3 team in the ESPN Los Angeles top 25 rankings, took a narrow 10-0 lead into the locker room at the break. The Diablos emerged a more determined bunch, with Bridgford hitting Max Redfield for a 74-yard score on his first pass of the second half.
"We had those earlier in the game, but I just missed those reads," Bridgford said.
The offensive improvements weren't needed, really. Mission Viejo's defense was superb, shutting out a Carson spread that had put up 26 points against Mater Dei and 21 against Santa Margarita. USC-bound Darreus Rogers was targeted often but was held to only one catch, for a mere 13 yards.
"I expect every game to be that difficult," said Rogers, somewhat shrugging his shoulders. Rogers had 11 receptions, 231 yards and three touchdowns against Mater Dei on Sept. 2.
The Diablos picked off Kevin McMahon three times, including twice when the ball was heading toward Rogers. McMahon completed just eight of his 23 attempts for 80 yards; Kendell Sparks had just 32 yards for the No. 22-ranked Colts (1-3).
It was just another week for Carson coach Elijah Asante, who undoubtedly had higher hopes for his team when he drew up the area's most challenging nonleague schedule. On Sept. 9, the Colts trailed Long Beach Poly by six at the half but lost by 20. Last week, they led Santa Margarita by a touchdown late in the third quarter before unraveling and losing by 18.
"Mainly that's what we're looking for, to play the very best," Asante said, showing no regret. "When you get to see what it is, you get to see what it is. It is something else."