The Huntington Beach High football team got its passing game going in the fourth quarter Friday night against Long Beach Wilson, with junior tight end Christian Moore as a key target.
Still, on a fourth-and-two situation on the Bruins’ four in the final minute of the game, Wilson coach Mark Ziegenhagen said he did not expect Oilers coach Brett Brown to call a pass play.
Ziegenhagen and Brown coached together as assistants for Huntington Beach from 2010-2013, before Ziegenhagen went back to Wilson to take the head coaching job.
“My offensive coordinator was a coach here as well, Jim Houston,” Ziegenhagen said. “We’re a mirrored program. We run the same offenses, and we run just about the same defenses. We’re all buddies. We’re all in a fantasy football league together.”
In real life, Ziegenhagen guessed right in the final minute. The Oilers ran it up the middle on fourth down, and Wilson junior middle linebacker Brett Dowgiewicz was there to stuff the play for a one-yard loss, effectively ending the game with 45 seconds left.
The Bruins were on the way to a 10-7 upset victory, spoiling the Oilers’ home opener.
Wilson (1-2) beat a Huntington Beach (2-1) team that was ranked No. 9 in CIF Southern Section Division 6, but also decidedly not at full strength. Standout senior running back Arick McLawyer said that he missed Friday’s game with a sprained left ankle, though Brown said he’s hopeful McLawyer can return next week, when the Oilers host Irvine. The second-string running back, senior James Stevens, exited late in the first half with an apparent hip injury.
“Hopefully it’s just a bruise or a hip pointer,” Brown said. “We don’t have a lot of depth to start with, but [Brandon] Ferrin came in and played hard, played well. We had a chance to win right there, and that’s all you can ask for. We didn’t play very well in the first half, and we still battled.
“We had a chance to win it [at the end], so we went for it. We missed a field goal earlier, so the confidence was not great.”
The Oilers were down 10-0 entering the fourth quarter and had just eight yards passing, but junior quarterback Brady Gardner got into a rhythm with Moore. The tight end caught a 44-yard pass over the middle, one of three catches on a drive that did end with the Oilers missing a 21-yard field goal.
But the Bruins lost a fumble on the ensuing possession, giving Huntington Beach the ball at the Wilson 23. Three plays later, Gardner found Moore on an 11-yard touchdown pass to the front right corner of the end zone.
Wilson got the ball back with 6:26 remaining in the quarter, but couldn’t run the clock out. Two penalties that negated first downs didn’t help.
A bad snap on a punt attempt meant the ball never got to the punter, and Huntington Beach’s Anthony Antolin recovered it, again on the 23, with 2:29 remaining.
A pass interference penalty moved it to the Wilson 12, and Gardner connected with Moore on a nine-yard pass to the three-yard line. But Gardner was sacked on second down and Huntington Beach standout senior receiver Jeremiah Flanagan, who was held without a catch, was unable to come down with Gardner’s hurried throw to the end zone on third down.
Brown brought out his kicker, Will Macy, to attempt a 25-yard field goal, before the Oilers got closer when Wilson committed an encroachment penalty. Now the hosts were going to go for it, but they were denied.
It was Huntington Beach’s fourth scoreless trip to the red zone of the night.
“We feel we left 28 points off the board,” Brown said. “We’ve got to do better and execute. We’re not going to beat anybody if we turn the ball over, so we’ve got to take care of it and finish in the red zone. Those are things we work on every day, and we didn’t do it.”
Long Beach Wilson 10, Huntington Beach 7
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Long Beach Wilson 3 – 0 – 7 – 0 — 10
Huntington Beach 0 – 0 – 0 – 7 — 7
LBW – Del Rosario 31 FG, 4:46.
LBW – Harris 28 run (Del Rosario kick), 4:00.
HB – Moore 11 pass from Gardner (Macy kick), 6:26.
LBW – Harris, 18-74, 1 TD.
HB – Ferrin, 12-55.
LBW – Pettway, 12-24-0, 116.
HB – Gardner, 8-21-108-1, 1 TD.
LBW – Bruner, 5-49.