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Edison football hangs on to earn key Sunset League win over Corona del Mar

Edison's Nico Brown makes a fingertip grab in the end zone for a touchdown against Corona del Mar on Friday.
Edison’s Nico Brown makes a fingertip grab in the end zone for a touchdown against Corona del Mar during a Sunset League football game at Huntington Beach High School on Friday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

The two runs couldn’t have been more different, but each time, Edison High senior running back Troy Fletcher drove a stake into the heart of Corona del Mar.

Fletcher’s 55-yard touchdown run up the middle late in Friday night’s Sunset League football showdown put the Chargers back up by two scores.

Then, with Edison trying to run out the clock, his second effort allowed him to gain two yards on third-and-one in the final minute.

Edison held for a 28-20 victory at Huntington Beach High, which likely means that the Chargers will finish second in the league for the second straight year.

Edison's Troy Fletcher runs upfield under pressure from Corona del Mar's Christian Brooks.
Edison’s Troy Fletcher runs upfield under pressure from Corona del Mar’s Christian Brooks.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

“We started off to a quick start, and then both defenses tightened up in the second half, big-time,” Edison coach Jeff Grady said. “We just came up with plays when we needed to make plays. We didn’t play extremely clean but we got it done.”

Edison (5-4, 2-1 in league) never trailed in the second half and was able to bounce back from last week’s close loss to likely back-to-back league champion Los Alamitos.

Senior quarterback Parker Awad threw three touchdown passes in the first half for the Chargers, to Nico Brown, Austin Hurley and Tucker Tripp.

Edison had just one running play in the first half. Besides that play, it was Awad airing it out for 255 passing yards in the first half alone.

“He’s getting better and better each week,” Grady said. “He’s got a good feel for the pocket. He did a good job of stepping up, keeping his eyes downfield and hitting check-downs. Check-downs went a long way tonight.”

Corona del Mar's Max Lane, left, celebrates with David Rasor after he scored during Friday's game against Edison.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Indeed, check-downs to Fletcher did prove key in beating Corona del Mar (6-2, 1-2). He finished with 180 yards from scrimmage, with six carries for 77 yards and the touchdown and five catches for 103 yards.

“Every time we put pressure on [Awad] and he scrambled, he dumped it to the running back, and that guy’s a nightmare,” CdM coach Dan O’Shea said. “It was well-designed by Edison, for sure.”

Edison senior defensive end Austin Grbac, who said he and his brother Cody missed last week’s loss to Los Alamitos due to coronavirus contact tracing, returned in a big way Friday night with a game-high four quarterback sacks. Still, the Sea Kings remained in the game until the end.

But the Edison defense stiffened in the red zone. CdM had to settle for three field goal attempts by Colin Pene; two were successful.

“We were not able to convert touchdowns down in the red zone, and that was the game,” O’Shea said. “It was just two champion programs going head to head. That was a fierce battle physically and emotionally for both sides, but the big difference for us was needing to convert touchdowns down in the red zone.”

Edison's Nico Brown, right, leaps in the air with Tucker Tripp after he scored a touchdown in the second half.
Edison’s Nico Brown, right, leaps in the air with Tucker Tripp after he scored a touchdown in the second half.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Pene’s 23-yard field goal with 5:53 left in the fourth quarter brought CdM within 21-13. But three plays later, Fletcher burst up the middle on his 55-yard scamper.

“It felt great,” Fletcher said. “I knew it was going to hit sooner or later. The line just did their thing, and it was a wide-open hole. All I had to do was run through it.”

CdM responded, as junior quarterback David Rasor found Evan Sanders on an 11-yard touchdown pass with 1:48 remaining. But Edison recovered the onside kick, and Fletcher’s third-down run helped the hosts run out the clock.

Senior defensive tackle Hudson Letterman had two tackles for a loss for Edison.

Corona del Mar's John Tipton attempts to avoid a tackle from Edison's Cody Grbic.
Corona del Mar’s John Tipton attempts to avoid a tackle from Edison’s Cody Grbic.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

CdM senior safety Tyler Brown had a second-half interception, but the Chargers were still able to show off an impressively versatile passing attack. Fletcher, Brown, Hurley, Tripp and Tyler Hampton all had at least 40 yards receiving.

“We have weapons everywhere,” Fletcher said. “We have high jumpers with Hampton, deep threats with Nico and Ashton, and Tucker is just a well-rounded receiver. It’s hard to cover all of them. One of them is always going to be open.”

Both teams prepare for rivalry games next Friday. Edison plays Fountain Valley in the Battle for the Bell game at Orange Coast College, while CdM plays at Newport Harbor in the Battle of the Bay game.

Edison has won 16 straight Bell games against Fountain Valley, while CdM looks to beat Newport Harbor for the ninth straight year.

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Sunset League

Edison 28, Corona del Mar 20

SCORE BY QUARTERS

CdM 10 – 0 – 0 – 10 — 20

Edison 14 – 7 – 0 – 7 — 28

FIRST QUARTER

CdM – Pene 25 FG, 8:42.

E – Brown 14 pass from Awad (Preston kick), 6:14.

CdM – Rasor 4 run (Pene kick), 2:33.

E – Hurley 22 pass from Awad (Preston kick), 0:13.

SECOND QUARTER

E – Tripp 3 pass from Awad (Preston kick), 0:12.

FOURTH QUARTER

CdM – Pene 23 FG, 5:53.

E – Fletcher 55 run (Preston kick), 4:14.

CdM – Sanders 11 pass from Rasor (Pene kick), 1:48.

INDIVIDUAL RUSHING

CdM – Sanders, 18-72.

E – Fletcher, 6-77, 1 TD.

INDIVIDUAL PASSING

CdM – Rasor, 19-37-0, 184, 1 TD.

E – Awad, 19-29-1, 290, 3 TDs.

INDIVIDUAL RECEIVING

CdM – Sanders, 7-48, 1 TD.

E – Fletcher, 5-103.

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