SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Nordhoff will get a chance to repeat as Southern Section champions after winning an intense and thrilling semifinal game over Bishop Diego 24-21.
Clinging to a three point lead, the Rangers Shane Hersh intercepted a pass near his own endzone with 23 seconds to play to send Nordhoff back to the CIF Northwest Division championship game where they will host El Segundo next Saturday.
Bishop Diego drove from its own 20-yard line to the Rangers 8-yard line in the final minutes of the game. On third and goal, Anthony Carter's pass was tipped and ultimately intercepted by Hersh to set off a wild celebration for the Rangers.
For the Cardinals it's the third year in a row that their season ends in the semifinals.
Bishop Diego led 21-16 late in the third quarter after a shovel pass from Carter to Aiden Williams went for 27-yards and a touchdown.
But Nordhoff took the lead for good with 37 seconds left in the third quarter on a 9-yard touchdown run by Matt Woodcock. The Rangers converted a 2-point conversion to lead 24-21.
Tayler Livingston scored a touchdown for the Rangers and they got three field goals from Cooper Garcia including a 50-yarder in the final seconds of the first half but Nordhoff trailed 14-13 at the break.
Besides his touchdown catch, Williams also scored on a 5-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to put the Cardinals up 14-10. Abel Gonzalez scored the game's first td, 1-yd run that made it 7-3 Cardinals in the first quarter.
The Cardinals end a solid year at 10-3 while the defending CIF Northwest Division champion Rangers are 12-1 heading into next weeks title game.