The Edison High football team largely came apart to allow host San Clemente to come back for a 28-21 nonleague victory Friday night.
The Chargers saw a 21-7 lead vanish due to turnovers, costly penalties and some inconsistent offense, as the Tritons capitalized to improve to 4-0 against Edison the last four seasons.
San Clemente (5-0), which forced three turnovers, cashed in an interception to drive 55 yards for the tying touchdown with 6:36 left. The Tritons then benefited from more charity in the kicking game to take the lead for good, and clinched the game with an interception at their six with 19 seconds remaining.
With the scored tied at 21-21, Edison was held to a three-and-out on its ensuing possession and punted from its 18. The Chargers interfered with Preston Rex who was trying to execute a fair catch, and the penalty set the Tritons up at the Chargers’ 33.
After an offensive holding call was followed by a roughing-the-passer penalty, an encroachment call and an unsportsmanlike penalty on the Chargers gave San Clemente first-and-goal at the five-yard line. On the next snap, quarterback Nick Billoups swept right for the deciding touchdown with 4:25 left.
Edison (3-2), which erased a 17-0 deficit, then held off San Juan Hills in the closing seconds of its 24-17 home win on Sept. 13, moved to the Tritons 21 with the ensuing possession. But it squandered its chance by throwing its second interception of the night.
San Clemente’s Trey Torticcill had the clinching interception, after which the Tritons took a knee to run out the clock.
The Tritons, who dropped two additional would-be interceptions, recovered an Edison fumble in Chargers’ territory late in the third quarter, though they punted on the ensuing possession.
San Clemente’s Dean Westerberg stepped in front of a pass in the flat and returned his interception 23 yards to his own 45-yard line to set up the hosts’ tying touchdown, this time an 11-yard run by Billoups.
A 22-yard punt set up a 29-yard touchdown drive by the hosts to pull within 21-14 with 4:16 left in the third quarter.
Edison, which had 225 rushing yards to easily better its total through the air (126), scored on two of its first three possessions to take a 14-7 lead. The Chargers marched 50 yards on six plays, capped by a Tanner Nelson 29-yard touchdown run, to open the scoring.
After San Clemente knotted things at 7-7, the Chargers went 80 yards on 10 plays to regain the lead.
The visitors, ranked No. 8 in the CIF Southern Section Division 3 poll, padded their lead after Nelson blocked a punt that went out of bounds at the San Clemente six early in the third quarter. Mike Walters made it 21-7 with his second one-yard scoring run of the night with 9:02 left in the third quarter.
Nelson finished with 110 rushing yards on 14 attempts, while Walters, a tailback who triggered a Wildcat formation at quarterback on several plays, including all three touchdowns, contributed 95 rushing yards on 23 attempts.
But Edison, alternating Braeden Boyles and Jacob Hanlon at quarterback, was a combined nine for 25 passing, with the aforementioned two interceptions.
“We were very sporadic in the passing game, which was pretty good early on [99 aerial yards in the first half],” Edison coach Jeff Grady said. “Then, we just faltered toward the end, so we stopped throwing the football.”
Edison’s defense, for which linebacker Mario Roberts had an interception at his own seven to turn away one San Clemente drive with 1:30 before halftime, was better early than late.
“It was kind of a mish-mash of stuff that cost us in the end, but turnovers were the key,” Grady said. “We had [three turnovers] and they had one. And, we had some key penalties, obviously. When you play against a good team, mistakes are magnified.”
Billoups, who was eight for eight passing in the first two quarters, finished 16 of 21 for 158 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown toss to Bentley Redden.
Edison held San Clemente to just 72 rushing yards, with Billoups’ first touchdown run the only carry to gain more than nine yards.
San Clemente 28, Edison 21
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Edison 7 – 7 – 7 – 0 — 21
San Clemente 0 – 7 – 7 – 14 — 28
E – Nelson 29 run (Tro. Fletcher kick), 6:11.
SC – Redden 21 pass from Billoups (Thompson kick), 9:54.
E – Walters 1 run (Tro. Fletcher kick), 5:01.
E – Walters 1 run (Tro. Fletcher kick), 9:02.
SC – Rex 14 pass from Joseph (Thompson kick), 4:16.
SC– Billoups 11 run (Thompson kick), 6:36.
SC– Billoups 5 run (Thompson kick), 4:25.
E – Nelson, 14-110, 1 TD.
SC – Bohls, 6-23.
E – Hanlon, 4-11-0, 80.
SC – Billoups, 16-21-0, 158, 1 TD.
E – Koffler, 4-97.
SC – Rex, 6-67, 1 TD.
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