STOCKTON -- The Clayton Valley Charter High football team's amazing run finally ended Saturday night.
The Eagles, their star running back Joe Protheroe on the sideline after injuring his left foot, dropped a 27-24 heartbreaker to Oakdale in the California Interscholastic Federation Northern Regional Division II championship game.
The Eagles, who had a 12-game win streak snapped, battled back from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter in the tense battle at Lincoln High.
Oakdale will face Serra-Gardena in the state Division II title game at 4 p.m. Saturday at The Home Depot Center in Carson. Serra beat Edison-Huntington Beach 27-10 in the Southern Regional Division II final.
Big pass plays by Oakdale (14-1) and three turnovers came back to haunt the Eagles (12-2), who had earned the school's first North Coast Section football title.
"This was the ultimate goal," first-year coach Tim Murphy said. "This is what we put on the paper when I first met them in May: We were gonna win an NCS title, and they did. We never even talked about this game. This was an added bonus to what they accomplished this year."
Clayton Valley quarterback Mike Protheroe scored on a 2-yard burst with 7:48 left to cut the deficit to 27-24.
The Eagles then stopped the Mustangs on a fourth-down play for the third time in the game and were in position for a possible dramatic win. But Jesse Medrano, who ran gallantly along with Cesar Luengas in the second half, was stopped well short on a fourth-and-10 run with 2:23 left.
It was a tough ending for Joe Protheroe, who injured his foot early in the third quarter. He still managed 94 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. He finished his epic senior season with 2,989 yards rushing and 35 touchdowns.
He said someone rolled on his ankle.
"I broke my left ankle my sophomore year in a playoff game, too," Joe Protheroe said. "It's kind of been weak. I hope it isn't broken. I just couldn't play on it. I tried and I couldn't cut or anything."
After Tanner Wraa scored on an 8-yard run, followed by a 2-point completion from Mike Protheroe to Medrano, the Eagles led 17-14 with 1:08 left in the third quarter.
The Mustangs promptly had a 70-yard touchdown completion from Spencer Thomas to Austin Jones.
Mike Protheroe was then intercepted for the second time, and the Mustangs upped the lead to 27-17 on a leaping touchdown grab by Dewayne Finney, who outfought an Eagles defender on the 25-yard play.
Oakdale also scored on a deflected pass in the end zone earlier in the third quarter to lead 14-9.
Clayton Valley went 67 yards on 10 plays on its first series of the game to take a 6-0 lead. The extra point was blocked as Eagles kicker Eddie Juarez appeared to suffer an injury.
The Eagles were poised to up the lead on their second possession after Mike Protheroe, Joe's younger brother, completed a 24-yard pass to Curtis Grant to the Oakdale 31. Joe Protheroe ran for 5 yards and a personal foul penalty put the ball on the Mustangs' 12. But the Eagles lost 15 yards on a botched snap before Mike Protheroe was picked off in the end zone by Eddie Machado.
The Mustangs took a 7-6 lead on a 30-yard TD pass from Thomas to Machado, followed by the PAT.