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Los Alamitos fends off Edison’s fourth-quarter rally

Edison's Logan Gregory knocks the ball loose from Los Alamitos' Ethan O'Connor during a Sunset League game on Thursday.
Edison’s Logan Gregory knocks the ball loose from Los Alamitos’ Ethan O’Connor during a Sunset League game at Boswell Field on Thursday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

The sequel rarely lives up to the standard of the original, but that was not the case in a televised Sunset League showdown between the Edison High School football team and Los Alamitos.

For the second time in the last seven months, the Griffins were able to hold off the Chargers in the final minutes to put themselves at the front of the league title race.

Los Alamitos used a balanced effort to defeat Edison 35-28 on Thursday at Boswell Field on the campus of Westminster High School.

Malachi Nelson, the Griffins’ Oklahoma-committed quarterback, was held to 194 passing yards, but he still finished with three touchdown passes. His longest connection went to Ethan O’Connor for a 41-yard touchdown that put Los Alamitos ahead 14-7 on its last drive of the first half.

Edison's Troy Fletcher runs up field during a Sunset League game against Los Alamitos at Boswell Field on Thursday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Edison (4-3, 1-1 in league) got the ball back with 2:18 on the clock. Parker Awad dropped a 33-yard pass in to Tyler Hampton along the left sideline, and the ball was spotted at the Los Alamitos 1.

For perhaps the only time in the game, the Griffins were able to stop Chargers running back Troy Fletcher, who ran for 207 yards and three touchdowns. After a run for no gain on first and goal, Edison called its final timeout with 21 seconds left before the half.

The Griffins stopped the run again, and with the clock winding down, Awad took the snap and threw the ball up for Nico Brown, but DeAndre Moore broke up the play to deny the Chargers points before the break.

“I knew that they were going to try to get their best player the ball,” Moore said of defending the fade route. “I just played hard inside, played my game, did my technique, and I was grateful enough to knock the ball away.”

Edison's Parker Awad, left, lifts Troy Fletcher after he scores a touchdown against Los Alamitos at Boswell Field.
Edison’s Parker Awad, left, lifts Troy Fletcher after he scores a touchdown against Los Alamitos at Boswell Field on Thursday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Los Alamitos (6-1, 1-1) scored on back-to-back drives in the third quarter to extend its lead to 28-7. Nelson scrambled to his right before finding Moore for a six-yard score.

Kevin Longstreet then recovered a pooch kick for the Griffins, who took just four plays to cash in when Makai Lemon spun out of a tackle as part of an 18-yard receiving touchdown.

Makai Lemon had eight catches for 182 yards and three touchdowns in Los Alamitos’ 27-20 win over Edison on Friday, giving the Griffins sole-possession of first place in the Sunset League.

Edison responded by going deep into its playbook. Tyler Gioia delivered a backwards pass to Hampton, who tossed a 26-yard touchdown to Tucker Tripp on the trick play.

“We’re not satisfied after two consecutive losses by seven points [to the Griffins],” Tripp said. “I’m praying we get put in the same division and we’re able to play each other in the playoffs because we are going to be hungry for revenge.”

Los Alamitos' Eric Gage tackles Edison's Parker Awad during a Sunset League game at Boswell Field on Thursday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Nelson briefly left the game after what appeared to be a noncontact injury on the ensuing drive, but he would return. Los Alamitos coach Ray Fenton expressed relief at finding out Nelson was just dealing with a cramp.

“[Nelson] didn’t make a cut,” Fenton said. “If he had made a cut on that [run], I would have been way more concerned, but as I saw it, I thought it was probably going to be a cramp.”

When the Chargers got the ball back, Adam Tomczyk sacked Gioia, one of six sacks by the Griffins. Lemon intercepted a pass on the next play, giving Los Alamitos a short field, which led to an eventual three-yard rushing touchdown by Moore and a 35-14 advantage.

Leading the Griffins’ ground attack was Nygel Osborne, who rushed for 122 yards on nine carries.

Edison's Malachi Pierce stops Los Alamitos' Makai Lemon during a Sunset League game at Boswell Field on Thursday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Sinn Brennan, who had a short-yardage rushing touchdown and a sack, said the Griffins are playing with renewed confidence since taking their only loss against Santa Margarita on Sept. 17.

“We wanted to win that game, and our team’s been different ever since that,” Brennan said. “Practice has been different. Our confidence is at an all-time high right now.”

A comeback attempt for the Chargers began at the Edison 2 with 6:15 to go. Fletcher ripped off a 42-yard gain to get the Chargers out of the shadow of their own end zone. Awad had a 39-yard pass to Ashton Hurley on the drive, and Fletcher displayed his physicality in punching in a four-yard run.

Edison's Tyler Hampton makes a catch over Los Alamitos' Ethan O'Connor during a Sunset League game at Boswell Field.
Edison’s Tyler Hampton makes a catch over Los Alamitos’ Ethan O’Connor during a Sunset League game at Boswell Field on Thursday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Brown then recovered an onside kick. Three plays and 55 seconds later, Fletcher found the end zone again on a 43-yard dash.

Edison was down by a touchdown with 2:38 remaining and all of its timeouts left, but Los Alamitos picked up three first downs to run out the clock.

“I’m just proud of [how] we didn’t cave,” Edison coach Jeff Grady said. “We didn’t shut things down. We fought.”

Edison's Peyton Gregory wraps up Los Alamitos' Nygel Osborne during a Sunset League game at Boswell Field on Thursday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Sunset League

Los Alamitos 35, Edison 28

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Edison 0 – 7 – 7 – 14 – 28

Los Alamitos 7 – 7 – 14 – 7 – 35

FIRST QUARTER

LA – Brennan 1 run (McLachlan kick), 6:24.

SECOND QUARTER

E – Fletcher 5 run (Preston kick), 3:38.

LA – O’Connor 41 pass from Nelson (McLachlan kick), 2:23.

THIRD QUARTER

LA – Moore 6 pass from Nelson (McLachlan kick), 5:11.

LA – Lemon 18 pass from Nelson (McLachlan kick), 3:54.

E – Tripp 26 pass from Hampton (Preston kick), 1:57.

FOURTH QUARTER

LA – Moore 3 run (McLachlan kick), 9:19.

E – Fletcher 4 run (Preston kick), 3:33.

E – Fletcher 43 run (Preston kick), 2:38.

INDIVIDUAL RUSHING

E – Fletcher, 22-207, 3 TDs.

LA – Osborne, 9-122; Moore, 7-44, 1 TD.

INDIVIDUAL PASSING

E – Awad, 13-19-1, 184; Hampton, 1-26, 1 TD.

LA – Nelson, 18-23-0, 194.

INDIVIDUAL RECEIVING

E – Hurley, 2-83; Hampton, 7-72.

LA – Lemon, 8-102, 1 TD; O’Connor, 5-66, 1 TD.

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