Nick Kim threw for 300 yards in a victorious, though apprehensive debut for the unbeaten Newport Harbor High football team on Oct. 4.
On Friday night, the sophomore transfer from JSerra ditched the butterflies and resorted to merely winging it in his second start. The result was 365 aerial yards, two touchdown passes, a 77.4 percent completion rate and a 34-3 Sunset League win over host Huntington Beach at Cap Sheue Field.
Kim, who has stepped in for Cole Lavin after the junior injured his knee in the last of five nonleague victories on Sept. 27, completed 24 of 31 passes to help produce 14 first downs through the air.
Newport Harbor running back Justin McCoy had three rushing touchdowns and added a receiving touchdown on a 48-yard screen play to help the Sailors, ranked No. 2 in CIF Southern Section Division 9, improve to 7-0 overall and 2-0 in league play.
The last time Newport Harbor won its first seven games was 1994, when the team went 14-0 and captured its first section crown.
“Last week, there were a lot of nerves involved,” Kim said of a 38-24 victory over Fountain Valley. “This week, I felt like I belonged and I was ready to go. It felt good.”
After a three-and-out on the Sailors’ first possession, the Newport Harbor offense shared that good feeling by scoring on its next four possessions to assume command against the Oilers (1-6, 0-2).
McCoy bolted through the secondary on the aforementioned 48-yard scoring reception for a 7-0 lead with 23 seconds left in the first quarter.
After a 23-yard field goal by Will Macy gave the Oilers some confidence, Huntington Beach’s Hideo Ray recovered a pooch kickoff at the Sailors’ 24 to set up another opportunity.
But the Newport Harbor defense, as it did all game, stiffened and Mason Depoy blocked Macy’s 41-yard field-goal attempt to maintain the slim lead.
The Sailors then drove 70 yards on 10 plays, including five Kim completions to four different receivers, to make it 14-3.
McCoy capped the march with a two-yard surge up the middle with 1:56 left in the half.
Depoy returned an interception eight yards to the Oilers’ 47-yard line four plays into the ensuing possession and Kim needed just two snaps to rifle off completions of 36 yards to McCoy and 11 more to Mason Walker on a scoring fade to cap a 14-point surge in just 94 seconds. The Walker touchdown made it 21-3 with 22 seconds left before intermission.
After Newport Harbor took the second-half kickoff, Kim connected on his first three passes for 50 combined yards to ignite a seven-play, 80-yard march that ended with an 11-yard McCoy touchdown run.
McCoy, who rushed for 77 yards on 14 carries and added four receptions for 108 more yards, capped the scoring on a four-yard run up the middle midway through the final period.
“I thought we threw the ball really well,” said Newport Harbor coach Peter Lofthouse, whose team hosts Los Alamitos (2-5, 1-1) on Oct. 18. “[Kim] got more comfortable with the receivers and we were able to decipher the coverages a little bit and it opened things up in the pass game.”
Aidan Goltz had seven catches for 99 yards, while James Crowell and Walker each had four receptions for 77 and 53 yards, respectively.
“We have some dudes on the outside, who can all make plays for us,” Kim said of the receiving corps that included Austin Muro (three catches) and Joe Knipp (two grabs). “And McCoy is a dude, one of the best in the county.”
Kim and Lofthouse also praised the Sailors’ defense, which allowed the fewest points in 47 games, dating back to a 44-0 season-opening win over Eisenhower on Sept. 3, 2015.
“Defense; Oh, my gosh,” Kim said. “Three points; that’s hard to do.”
Added Lofthouse: “Luckily, the defense never broke. They kept making stops in the red zone area, giving us the ball back and creating a couple chances for us. The blocked field-goal attempt was big and kind of sparked us a little bit and got some momentum going.”
The Sailors had five sacks and surrendered only one play of more than 20 yards. Three times, the visitors held on fourth down, including two stops inside the red zone.
Chad Koste, J.J. Perez and Erik Hehl consistently led the defensive charge for the winners, who also relied upon Nathan Peters, Kris Kirnbauer, Zachary Debo, Johnny Brigandi, Kaden Stowell (who added a late interception) and Michael Morrison.
Huntington Beach was led by Christian Moore, who caught eight passes for 64 yards, and quarterback Brandon Cannella. Cannella, who left the game late with an injured right throwing arm, completed 14 of 27 passes for 163 yards. He also rushed for a team-best 33 yards, despite three sacks.
Newport Harbor 34, Huntington Beach 3
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Newport Harbor 7 – 14 – 6 – 7 — 34
Huntington Beach 0 – 3 – 0 – 0 — 3
NH – McCoy 48 pass from Kim (Starnes kick), 0:23.
HB – Macy 23 FG, 7:03.
NH – McCoy 2 run (Starnes kick), 1:56.
NH – Walker 11 pass from Kim (Starnes kick), 0:22.
NH – McCoy 11 run (kick failed), 10:00.
NH – McCoy 4 run (Starnes kick), 6:07.
NH – McCoy, 14-77, 3 TDs.
HB – Cannella, 7-33.
NH – Kim, 24-31-0, 365, 2 TDs.
HB – Cannella, 14-27-2, 163.
NH – McCoy, 4-108, 1 TD.
HB – Moore, 8-64.
Support our sports coverage by becoming a digital subscriber.