Laguna Beach High faced a Dana Hills high-powered offense that had been unstoppable through the first three games of the football season, but it was the Dolphins defense that shined this time.
The Dolphins recorded six sacks and earned a hard-fought 10-7 win at home over the Breakers in a nonleague game Friday night.
Dana Hills (4-0), ranked No. 12 in the CIF Southern Section Division 12 poll, was led by defensive end Liam Boersma, who finished with four sacks and was a thorn in No. 2 Laguna Beach’s side all game. Dolphins head coach Phillip Skinner loved what he saw from the senior.
“He is as good as any defensive lineman who has ever played at this school,” Skinner said. “But the linebackers and defensive tackles, especially Javier Arroyo, helped him have the game he did.”
Dana Hills quarterback Zackary Saavedra struggled early, but rebounded in the second half, completing all six of his passes over the final two quarters. He finished eight for 16 with 131 yards and a touchdown.
Saavedra’s final completion came early in the fourth quarter, when he connected with receiver Noah Simpson on a crossing pattern that went for 57 yards. The play set up kicker Kian Afrookhteh’s 26-yard game-winning field goal with 8:31 left in the game.
The Breakers (2-1) couldn’t put together any drives after that point.
Laguna Beach quarterback Andrew Johnson was under pressure throughout the game. He completed 15 of 29 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown, while being picked off twice.
Breakers coach John Shanahan said the Dolphins were simply the hungrier team.
“They were way more physical than us and just wanted it more” Shanahan said. “They were tougher than us, faster than us. We didn’t have a lot of answers tonight.”
The Laguna Beach offense was rolling on the game’s opening drive, getting to a first-and-goal situation from the Dolphins nine. Dana Hills defense came up big with back-to-back sacks, moving Laguna Beach back to the 19.
On third and goal, Johnson was picked off in the end zone by Lukas Saavedra, ending the drive.
With momentum on their side, the Dolphins marched down the field on their next drive. Led by running back Tristan Vanderlinde, Dana Hills was set up on the Breakers one, when quarterback Zack Saavedra was intercepted, keeping it scoreless after 12 minutes.
The Breakers took advantage of great field position on their first drive of the second quarter. With the ball on the Dana Hills 48, Johnson hit receiver Jack Pigott for an 18-yard gain.
On the next play, Laguna Beach was backed up after a holding penalty, but just two plays later, Johnson hit Pigott with a 38-yard pass down the sideline for the game’s opening score.
With the offense struggling to move the ball, Skinner decided to shake things up and made a change at quarterback, turning to sophomore Bo Kelly.
It looked like the hunch would pay off. On the first play from scrimmage, Varnderlinde ran the ball 78 yards to the house, only to be negated due to a holding penalty, keeping the score 7-0 Breakers going into halftime.
Skinner turned back to Saavedra to start the second half and the senior made his coach look good for the decision.
Saavedra completed all four of his passes on the drive, capped off with a 38-yard touchdown pass to Simpson, evening things up at 7-7.
After Afrookhteh’s field goal, the defense carried the Dolphins the rest of the way and sealed the win by forcing back-to-back turnovers on Laguna Beach’s final two drive. Miles Darst intercepted Johnson with 3:45 left to go.
On Laguna Beach’s final possession, Dana Hills forced a turnover on downs, handing the visitors their first loss of the season.
Dana Hills 10, Laguna Beach 7
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Laguna Beach 0 – 7 – 0 – 0 — 7
Dana Hills 0 – 0 – 7 – 3 — 10
LB – Pigott 38 pass from Johnson (Kesler kick), 6:33.
DH – Simpson 38 pass from Saavedra (Afrookhteh kick), 9:16.
DH – Afrookhteh 26 FG, 8:31.
LB – Golden, 10-50.
DH – Vanderlinde, 15-82.
LB – Johnson, 15-29-2, 147, 1 TD.
DH – Saavedra, 8-16-1, 131, 1 TD.
LB – Diver, 6-84.
DH – Simpson, 6-123, 1 TD.
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