By Matt Schwab

mschwab@bayareanewsgroup.com

ROHNERT PARK -- Miramonte High quarterback Drew Anderson completed four touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, including two to his brother, Ryan, and the Matadors earned a thrilling 41-28 win over Casa Grande-Petaluma Saturday night in the North Coast Section Division II championship game at Rancho Cotate High.

In an instant classic, the third-seeded Matadors celebrated a second consecutive stunning upset, this time over the top-seeded Gauchos (13-1). They upended No. 2 seed and defending Division II champion Clayton Valley Charter 44-38 in the semifinals.

"I can't even explain it. We've been working so hard for four years," Drew Anderson said. "I'm just so proud of all these guys. It means a lot to the coaches, the former players too."

The Matadors (12-2) will now see Sunday if they are chosen to play in the Northern Regional Division III championship bowl game. Enterprise-Redding and Manteca are also believed to be in the mix to be chosen for the game.

Dominic Paoletti caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from Anderson with no time left in the fourth quarter, setting off Miramonte's celebration. Paoletti dived into the end zone after running laterally to run out the clock.

Miramonte's leading man, the 6-foot-4 senior Anderson, was 21-for-39 passing for 438 yards and five touchdowns, giving him over 4,000 yards passing for the season.


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The Matadors (12-2) effectively clinched their first section title in a decade when McLain Lavis recovered a recovered a fumble after a Casa Grande completion on a last-ditch drive. The touchdown pass to Paoletti rounded out the scoring.

Miramonte led 28-21 on an 81-yard completion from Anderson to Anderson, as the wide-open sophomore caught a perfectly thrown deep ball at the Gauchos' 40-yard line and kept going to the end zone.

But the Gauchos, led all night by quarterback JaJuan Lawson and running back John Porchivina, tied it 28-28 on a 17-yard completion from Lawson to tight end Miles Gardea.

But the Matadors caught a break on their go-ahead march. Ryan Anderson fumbled after making a 26-yard reception, but Greg Pietrykowski recovered on the Gauchos' 37. One play later, Anderson completed an 11-yard touchdown pass to Ryan, who cut back across and dived into the end zone.

The underrated Matadors defense delivered clutch plays all night, and the offense found a way with standout running back Ray Clark injured for most of the fourth quarter.

"It was just the next man up," Drew Anderson said of the team's resilience. "Ray got hurt. He's been battling injuries the last couple weeks, but Ray's a very tough guy and he stayed in there on defense and did whatever he could to help the team."

Anderson said the offensive line and the receivers made "great" adjustments after starting the game slowly. Porchivina ran for 155 yards on 22 carries, but the Matadors kept him out the end zone when it counted.

In an entertaining first half, both teams squandered scoring chances. The Gauchos were stopped twice deep in Matadors' territory, the second of which on an interception by Clark at the 10-yard line with 10 seconds left in the half with Miramonte clinging to a 14-7 lead.

With the temperature at 32 degrees, Miramonte's passing attack warmed up as the frigid first half unfolded. Anderson, after competing two of his first nine passing attempts, got hot, completing 6 of 8 for 171 yards during one stretch. He had 191 passing for the half, and the underrated Matadors' defense contained the balanced Casa Grande offense pretty well.

Miramonte led 7-0 on a 41-yard completion from Anderson to Will Fuller with 50 seconds left in the first quarter, but the Gauchos responded with a 5-yard scoring run by Porchivina to tie the game at 7-7. But Anderson completed a 61-yard pass to Greg Pietrykowski on Miramonte's next possession to set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Ray Clark.

Miramonte marched to the Casa Grande 11 late in the half, but the Gauchos got the ball back on downs after Anderson threw incomplete back-to-back incomplete passes in the end zone. The Gauchos then rode quarterback JaJuan Lawson's scrambling and passing to march quickly to the Matadors' 14. Clark battled for his crucial interception diving near the far sideline after Lawson scrambled to his right.

Casa Grande hurt its chances with penalties, also squandering a scoring chance on its first possession against an opportunistic Miramonte defense. A fumbled exchange on a handoff attempt to Porchivina saw the ball bouncing all the way out to the 26-yard line before Miramonte recovered.

The quintessential dual threat, Lawson entered the game with 2,006 yards passing, completing 67.9 percent, and 1,035 yards rushing, averaging 11.01 a carry.

Miramonte finishes the year on an eight-game winning streak after a 38-10 loss to Campolindo on Oct. 4 in the Diablo Foothill Athletic League.

Miramonte averaged 54.7 points a game in the first three rounds of the playoffs, with Anderson throwing for 3,635 yards and 42 touchdowns for the season.

The Matadors were seeking their first section title since 2003, when they upended San Lorenzo 38-12 NCS 2A East Bay title.

Last year, Miramonte played in Division III and bowed out against eventual champion Marin Catholic-Kentfield in the quarterfinals. Casa Grande fell to Concord 14-6 in the 2012 Division II quarterfinals as the No. 4 seed.