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Passing game, defense help Laguna Beach top Hoover in opener

The lights went out at the Laguna Beach High football field at 9:30 p.m. on Friday.

The outcome was pretty much decided, the host Breakers up big on Glendale Hoover in the nonleague game. But 59 seconds were still left in the game.

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After a couple of minutes in the dark, the rest of the game was canceled and Laguna Beach’s 42-14 win was in the books. It took the lights several minutes to reset and come back on.

It was a lights-out defense that helped Laguna Beach win in its season opener and drop Hoover to 1-1.

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Junior quarterback Andrew Johnson, making his first varsity start, threw four touchdown passes for the Breakers and also rushed for a one-yard score in the fourth quarter. Backup quarterback Jack Crawford also made the most of his lone attempt, throwing a touchdown to Sean Nolan for 21 yards.

“The referee was concerned that Andrew may have dinged himself, so they wanted to get him off the field to get him looked at,” Laguna Beach coach John Shanahan said. “But he was fine.”

Laguna Beach High's Connor Fink, left, congratulates Sean Nolan after he scored a touchdown against Hoover on Friday.
Laguna Beach High's Connor Fink, left, congratulates Sean Nolan after he scored a touchdown against Hoover on Friday. (Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Nolan had two touchdown receptions, finishing with four catches for 47 yards. Fellow senior receiver Kai Ball also caught a four-yard touchdown, and both had interceptions on defense.

Johnson recovered after throwing an interception at the goal line on Laguna Beach’s first possession. He finished 15 of 29 passing for 197 yards, with two interceptions.

The Tornadoes did not have similar success throwing the ball.

I think we had 12 defensive linemen play tonight more than eight or 10 plays. We tried to get guys rotated in. It was a great performance for us defensively.


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Hoover junior quarterback Mattis Richards completed eight of 31 passes for 91 yards, and he had the two interceptions. But Richards did have at least three long passes that were off the hands of Tornadoes receivers. He just missed a connection with Guilermo Corrales in the second half that appeared likely to go for six points.

“[The passes] hit their hands, and they dropped it,” Hoover coach Terrance Jones said. “I think we could have beat that team … We’ve just got to regroup, refocus. We couldn’t get the pass game going, and we are a pass-heavy team.”

Senior James Chung provided the biggest plays for Hoover, with a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and a 64-yard touchdown run. But both came in the third quarter, with the Tornadoes already down four touchdowns.

Laguna Beach, up 21-0 at halftime, added to the lead midway through the third quarter. Johnson completed a pass to junior receiver Noah Diver, who spun away from a would-be tackler at the 10-yard line and spend into the end zone to finish the 35-yard touchdown.

Johnson added a 17-yard touchdown to running back Shane Lythgoe on a screen pass. He nearly got his fifth touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, but his short pass to Connor Fink on third-and-goal was ruled just short of the end zone. Johnson did it himself on the next play, running it in for the Breakers’ sixth and final touchdown.

Hoover’s biggest play of the first half came on the Tornadoes’ first possession, when Richards found Corrales on a 42-yard pass. But two plays later, Richards’ pass into the end zone was intercepted by Ball.

Hoover found itself down 14-0 by the time it could get into Breakers territory again, late in the half. But, on fourth-and-seven at the Laguna Beach 38, Richards was sacked by Fink and Lythgoe to force a turnover on downs. It was one of five sacks in the game for Laguna Beach.

“I think we had 12 defensive linemen play tonight more than eight or 10 plays,” said Shanahan, whose team hosts Big Bear on Aug. 31, the second of four consecutive home games to open the season. “We tried to get guys rotated in. It was a great performance for us defensively. Better than expected.”

Quarterback Andrew Johnson threw for four touchdowns in his first start for Laguna Beach High on Friday.
Quarterback Andrew Johnson threw for four touchdowns in his first start for Laguna Beach High on Friday. (Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Nonleague

Laguna Beach 42, Glendale Hoover 14

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Hoover 0 – 0 – 7 – 7 — 14

Laguna Beach 7 – 14 – 14 – 7 — 42

FIRST QUARTER

LB – Nolan 19 pass from Johnson (Handel kick), 2:40.

SECOND QUARTER

LB – Nolan 21 pass from Crawford (Handel kick), 7:14.

LB – Ball 4 pass from Johnson (Handel kick), 1:14.

THIRD QUARTER

LB – Diver 35 pass from Johnson (Handel kick), 6:49.

H – Chang 97 kickoff return (Moreno kick), 6:32.

LB – Lythgoe 17 pass from Johnson (Handel kick), 1:13.

H – Chang 64 run (Moreno kick), 0:37.

FOURTH QUARTER

LB – Johnson 1 run (Handel kick), 2:53.

INDIVIDUAL RUSHING

H – Chang, 3-74, 1 TD.

LB – Lythgoe, 12-52.

INDIVIDUAL PASSING

H – Richards, 8-31-2, 91.

LB – Johnson, 15-29-2, 197, 4 TDs.

INDIVIDUAL RECEIVING

H – Corrales, 1-42.

LB – Crawford, 2-56.

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