Brian Vaughan kicked a 28-yard field with six seconds remaining to lift Corona del Mar to a 3-0 victory over Huntington Beach Thursday night in the season opener for both schools at Newport Harbor High School.
Vaughan had earlier missed on field goal attempts of 27 and 28 yards, and it appeared that the game was going to end in a scoreless tie.
But Huntington Beach punter John Apostle was unable to handle a low snap on his own six-yard line and Corona del Mar linebacker Bill Artukovich tackled Apostle on the fourth-down play with 53 seconds remaining.
The Sea Kings were unsuccessful on three plays and then called their final timeout for Vaughan. Vaughan’s kick spilt the uprights and he was mobbed by his teammates at midfield.
“I was standing on the sidelines just hoping that I would get another chance after missing twice,” Vaughan said. “I’m really happy right now.”
Each team lost three fumbles in the error-filled game, and Corona del Mar running back Matt Patterson was the only player who managed to generate any offense. Patterson gained 93 yards on 20 carries.
Corona del Mar quarterback Mitch Melbon completed 9 of 16 passes but totaled only 53 yards. Melbon’s longest pass play was 21 yards, and he was sacked four times for minus 25 yards.
Huntington Beach Coach George Pascoe rotated quarterbacks Sean Picquette and Brett Brummett on alternating series with little results. Picquette failed to complete a pass in four attempts and Brummett managed just 13 yards passing.
“I thought we did a good job defensively,” Pascoe said. “We stopped them three times inside the 10-yard line. We gave them this game. Neither team deserved to win. We both deserved to lose.”
Pascoe watched his offense sputter for 128 yards in total offense and his top ballcarrier, Jason McGehee, managed only 31 yards rushing.
Corona del Mar wasn’t much better. The Sea Kings totaled only 142 yards offensively with Patterson gaining three-quarters of the yardage.
This game belonged to the defensive teams. Jay Mohamuad had two fumble recoveries for the Oilers and teammate Mike Courtney had another. Kevin O’Neil and Artukovich had fumble recoveries for the Sea Kings.
Corona del Mar staged its best drive of the game after receiving the opening kickoff. The Sea Kings drove from their 35-yard line to a first down at the Oiler 19. When three plays netted only eight yards, Vaughan attempted a 28-yard field goal but the kick hit the crossbar.
Huntington Beach blew its best scoring opportunity with 9:51 remaining in the game. Mohamuad recovered a Patterson fumble at the Sea King two-yard line but the Oilers proceeded to move backwards on their next three plays.
An illegal motion penalty set Huntington Beach back to the seven-yard line and then three running plays netted a total of one yard. David Hanley tried a 25-yard field goal with 7:23 left to play but the kick was wide to the right.
Critical penalties were also instrumental in keeping the score so low. Corona del Mar was penalized 10 times for 90 yards and Huntington Beach was assessed 75 yards in penalties.