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Friday, Sept 28 at 7:00 p.m.
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Huntington Beach
HB uses tough defense to eclipse Newport
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Sailors Fall to Huntington Beach 21-3 in Sunset League Opener

A spirited homecoming crowd at Davidson Field looked to celebrate a re-energized season with the Newport Harbor football team Friday night but Huntington Beach spoiled the party.

The Sailors offense never found a rhythm in a defensive dominated 21-3 loss in the Sunset League opener for both teams. Turnovers told the tale as Harbor drops to 3-2-1 on the season, 0-1 in league play. Huntington Beach improves to 5-1 overall, 1-0 in the Sunset standings.

A hard-hitting physical standoff flipped late in the first quarter on an Oilers interception. HB safety Jeremiah Flanagan picked the short pass over the middle and sprinted 63 yards for a touchdown. HB led 6-0 after the 2-point conversion try failed.

A fumble recovery by Harbor senior Jack Phillips early in the second quarter gave the Sailors good field position for their only scoring drive of the game. The key play featured sophomore quarterback Cole Lavin connecting with junior Aidan Goltz on a 32-yard pass play that proved to be the Sailors biggest offensive play of the night. Junior kicker Jack Starnes capped the 8-play drive with a 25-yard field goal for the only points Harbor would put on the scoreboard.

Trailing 6-3 just before half with HB threatening at the goal line, the Sailors defense seemed to come up with another key turnover. Senior cornerback Ronin Reid jumped high to intercept a fade pass in the corner of the end zone but after hitting the ground, officials determined possession of the ball was wrestled away by Oilers tight end Christian Moore. The confusing call stood as a Huntington Beach touchdown and the Oilers took a 14-3 lead in to the locker room after the 2-point conversion.

The halftime air remained festive as the Tar faithful and alumni enjoyed the band, cheer squad and dance team performances before senior Hallie Peplow was crowned the 2018 Newport Harbor Homecoming Queen. Prior to the game, 18 sailor players were honored alongside their parents for Senior Night, technically the last home game of the season. Harbor will play again at Davidson Field on October 19th in the annual Battle of the Bay in which Corona del Mar is the home team this year.

Second half action remained mostly a defensive standoff with Huntington Beach adding seven more points in the third quarter. The Oilers took advantage of a fumbled punt recovery in Harbor territory and scored on the next play, a 31-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Canella to Flanagan producing the 21-3 final score.

“Defensively I thought we played really well, except for a couple of busts,” said Harbor head coach Peter Lofthouse referring to the lost end zone interception and the 31 yard touchdown in the second half. “Really, it’s just those two critical plays that did us in on defense. Offensively, we just couldn’t find that rhythm. We had a couple bad turnovers, our offense just wasn’t in sync tonight.”

“I thought the energy was good. We were excited to play, we were ready to play,” added Lofthouse. “Unfortunately that’s just the way football works. Sometimes you’re just not able to connect the dots and offensively it was one of those nights.”

The Sailors aim for their first Sunset league victory when they travel to Los Alamitos next Friday night, October 5th. The Griffins are 5-1 on the season after a 69-0 win over Fountain Valley in week six.


-Matt Morrison