NEWPORT BEACH — What was not necessarily shocking was the fact Newport Harbor High upset San Clemente on Friday night at home.
After all, the Sailors were coming off winning a 27-26 thriller over Corona del Mar last week and have played well.
What was particularly notable was the way the Sailors dismantled the Tritons, 28-7, in a game that was a shutout until the last minute. San Clemente came into Friday's nonleague game ranked eighth in the CIF Southern Section Pac-5 Division.
The icing on the cake was it came on Newport Harbor Coach Jeff Brinkley's 60th birthday.
"We played great," Brinkley said. "We struggled a little bit offensively [in the first half]. Our defense kept us in the game. [Talalelei Teaupa] played great tonight."
Teaupa, Newport Harbor's senior tailback, had two scintillating touchdowns, sophomore quarterback Cole Norris had two passing touchdowns and another rushing, and the defense came up with big play after big play to pull off the huge win for the Sailors (2-2).
With 32 seconds left in the first half, Teaupa took a quick screen pass outside, broke two tackles and pie-faced a defender with a stiff arm for a 63-yard touchdown for a 7-0 halftime lead. That pick-me-up gave Newport Harbor the boost it needed over a stout defense for the Tritons (4-1).
Teaupa finished with 143 yards rushing and one touchdown, as well as the 63-yard TD reception.
"We had guys out of alignment," San Clemente Coach Jaime Ortiz said. "You give [Teaupa] enough room, he'll hurt you."
Norris stepped up for the second straight game for injured starter Zach Wade, who was on crutches on the sideline due to a broken left foot he suffered two weeks ago in a game against Loyola.
Norris came through like he's been starting for years, shaking off an early interception and a one-for-four first half to finish seven for 10 for 126 yards.
"This was definitely a statement game," Norris said. "We came out here ready to play. I was a little nervous coming into this game. But my teammates picked me up. Zach told me to relax at halftime."
The defense was outstanding the entire game, especially weathering three fourth-down attempts inside the 35 by San Clemente's offense. Senior linebacker Marty Taylor stopped a San Clemente run on fourth-and-two, then Brian Team followed Norris' interception by stuffing Sydney Reynolds on fourth-and-three.
"We played well last week and that carried the momentum coming into this game," Brinkley said. "We keep getting better for league. It's a good win for these kids."
It should be noted that the Tritons played without six starters, including quarterback Sean Donnelly, Ortiz said. Third-string signal-caller Loren Applegate also played well in his place, completing 12 of 18 for 118 yards.
Personal fouls were the killer for San Clemente. With six minutes left in the third quarter, at the three-yard line, instead of forcing a fourth-and-three and possibly setting up a field goal, there was a facemask penalty that gave Newport new life and a first down. Four plays later, on fourth-and-goal from the two, Norris followed with a quick snap for a sneak and a score.
Teaupa tacked on a 48-yard touchdown as he raced untouched on a cutback run down the middle, with 1:20 left in the third.
Quest Truxton completed the scoring on a six-yard pass reception, after senior defensive lineman Christian Gutierrez forced a fumble on a sack that Teaupa, who also had a sack, recovered.
Newport Harbor 28, San Clemente 7
SCORE BY QUARTERS
San Clemente 0 – 0 – 0 – 7 – 7
Newport Harbor 0 – 7 – 21 – 0 – 28
NH – Teaupa 63 pass from Norris (Schultz kick), :32.
NH – Norris 1 run (Schultz kick), 5:26.
NH – Teaupa 48 run (Schultz kick), 1:20.
NH – Truxton 6 pass from Norris (Schultz kick), :10.
SC – Cook 2 run (Miller kick), :33.
SC – James, 9-39.
NH – Teaupa, 24-143, 1 TD.
SC – Applegate, 12-18-0, 118.
NH – Norris, 7-10-1, 126, 1 TD.
SC – Bailey, 6-66.
NH – Truxton 2-15.