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Edison offense keeps on clicking in win over Newport Harbor

Edison's Nico Brown (23) makes an acrobatic catch for a touchdown.
Edison’s Nico Brown (23) makes an acrobatic catch for a touchdown as Newport Harbor’s McKay Ketchum tries to get in the way during Sunset League football opener on Thursday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

The Edison High School football team was in charge of its Sunset League opener from the start, scoring 16 points in a 93-second span and steadily increasing its advantage into the second half behind a big-play offense and swarming defense en route to a 50-14 triumph over Newport Harbor at Huntington Beach High School on Thursday night.

Then the Chargers found real joy, long after the result was in hand.

Tyler Gioia, a senior quarterback expected to lead the team this fall until he tore an anterior cruciate ligament in a loss last March to Los Alamitos, made his return with about four and a half minutes to go in the third quarter. Three plays, three completions, the last an 11-yard Nico Brown touchdown that extended the lead to 43-7.

It was the highlight of homecoming.

Edison's Troy Fletcher (21) steps into the end zone for a touchdown run against Newport Harbor.
Edison’s Troy Fletcher (21) steps into the end zone for a touchdown run against Newport Harbor during a Sunset League football opener on Thursday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“He’s a special, special guy. He’s a coach’s-dream kind of kid,” Edison head coach Jeff Grady said. “Everyone here is fired up. It was emotional when he went into the game, but he just did what he does. He moved the team, was efficient with the ball. He was just Tyler. It was awesome to see.”

The Chargers (4-2), a few penalties and a couple of turnovers aside, were pretty awesome, too. Parker Awad, after missing on four of his first five throws, completed 16 of 17 the rest of the way to total 282 yards and three touchdowns, including one-handed, tightly-covered, edge-of-the-end-zone grabs by Tyler Hampton and Brown. The other, a 57-yard bomb to Brown five plays after Troy Fletcher’s 81-yard scoring sprint, was called back on a holding penalty.

Fletcher, who lost 70 yards on the flag, scored two touchdowns that counted and finished with 52 yards on eight carries. Edison’s defense limited the Sailors (1-5) to 39 yards in the first half, with Payton Irving running for 54 yards after the break, most of it against a blend of Chargers starters and backups.

Newport Harbor quarterback Nick Kim is sacked by Edison's Austin Grbic (33) in the end zone.
Newport Harbor quarterback Nick Kim is sacked by Edison’s Austin Grbic (33) in the end zone during a Sunset League football opener on Thursday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

It was 16-0 a little more than midway through the first quarter. The Chargers drove 82 yards on 13 plays on the opening drive, going ahead on Fletcher’s 13-yard run through traffic. Then they made it 9-0 a minute later as Austin Grbic twice sacked Nick Kim, the second time in the end zone after a high snap ricocheted off the quarterback’s fingertips. Edison got the ball at the 50 following the free kick, and Awad found Tucker Tripp open for a 35-yard gain on the first play, then hit Hampton in the end zone.

Newport Harbor got its touchdown after Fletcher fumbled following a reception on the Chargers 41, with Kim connecting with Kashton Henjum on a 28-yard gain and Carson de Avila going the final yard on a wildcat play to start the second quarter.

Gioia took the field after Newport Harbor turned the ball over on downs at its 44, hit Brown for a 23-yard gain and Hampton for 5 more. He then connected with Brown on the touchdown.

Newport Harbor's Carson De Avila (4) runs into the end zone for a touchdown during a Sunset League football opener.
Newport Harbor’s Carson De Avila (4) runs into the end zone for a touchdown during a Sunset League football opener against Edison on Thursday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“I told myself I’m going to be ready when the time comes, and my time came ...,” Gioia said. “It was awesome. To have everyone around to help me, I did this [comeback] in six months, and that doesn’t happen by accident. I worked hard and people around me pushed me and motivated me, and it’s just awesome to see it pay off tonight.”

Brown, who caught eight passes for 159 yards, called it “super cool to get a touchdown pass from him” and “special to see him back on the field.”

“That was a special moment,” Awad said. “It was so inspiring for me, for everyone.”

It added to the Chargers’ confidence ahead of next week’s showdown with Los Alamitos (5-1), which romped past previously unbeaten Corona del Mar, 42-14, in another Sunset League opener.

Edison's Nico Brown (23) runs up field after a catch during a Sunset League football opener against Newport Harbor.
Edison’s Nico Brown (23) runs up field after a catch during a Sunset League football opener against Newport Harbor on Thursday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“This is the one we’ve talked about all season,” Gioia said. “We want this one real bad, and we’re going to go in with a strong mindset, and we’re going to come out with a win if we do what we should do.”

Newport Harbor gained 70 of its 123 yards after that, driving for a touchdown — a drive completed on AJ Guitron-Moore’s 20-yard pass to Henjum on the second play of the fourth quarter. Edison added a touchdown on a two-yard Carter Hogue run on its next drive.

“AJ was able to move the ball and put us in good position to look very fluid in the second half,” Sailors head coach Peter Lofthouse said. “Maybe we’ll find an identity here and sustain it going through the rest of the league.”

Edison's Peyton Gregory (20) and Hudson Letterman (47) close in on Newport Harbor's Payton Irving (34) for a loss of yards.
Edison’s Peyton Gregory (20) and Hudson Letterman (47) close in on Newport Harbor’s Payton Irving (34) for a loss of yards during a Sunset League football opener on Thursday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Sunset League

Edison 50, Newport Harbor 14

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Newport Harbor 0 - 7 - 0 - 7 — 14

Edison 16 - 13 - 14 - 7 — 50

FIRST QUARTER

E — Fletcher 13 run (Preston kick), 7:28.

E — Safety (A. Grbic tackle in end zone), 6:31.

E — Hampton 15 pass from Awad (Preston kick), 5:55.

SECOND QUARTER

NH — de Avila 1 run (Richardson kick), 11:55.

E — Brown 57 pass from Awad (Preston kick), 8:53.

E — Brown 1 pass from Awad (pass failed), 1:33.

THIRD QUARTER

E — Fletcher 1 run (Preston kick), 7:14.

E — Brown 11 pass from Gioia (Preston kick), 2:57.

FOURTH QUARTER

NH — Henjum 20 pass from Guitron-Moore (Richardson kick), 11:06.

E — Hogue 1 run (Schmidt kick), 6:33.

INDIVIDUAL RUSHING

NH — Irving, 11-51.

E — Fletcher, 8-52, 2 TDs; Hogue, 6-45, 1 TD.

INDIVIDUAL PASSING

NH — Kim, 14-22-0, 62; Guitron-Moore, 5-13-0, 45, 1 TD.

E — Awad, 17-22-0, 282, 3 TDs; Gioia, 3-3-0, 39, 1 TD.

INDIVIDUAL RECEIVING

NH — Henjum, 7-86, 1 TD; Lamarque, 6-32.

E — Brown, 8-159, 3 TDs; Tripp, 4-55; Hampton 5-53, 1 TD.

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