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Newport Harbor football gets key win over Huntington Beach

Newport Harbor's Payton Irving steps into the end zone for a touchdown in the first half on Friday.
Newport Harbor’s Payton Irving steps into the end zone for a touchdown in the first half of a Sunset League football game against Huntington Beach on Friday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

When things did not break their way during a tough nonleague schedule, the Newport Harbor High School football team knew it had another path to the playoffs.

Newport Harbor coach Peter Lofthouse told his players that the Sunset League represented a new season, and the Sailors have done what they had to in order to put themselves in contention.

Running back Payton Irving scored three touchdowns to lead Newport Harbor to a 45-27 win over Huntington Beach on Friday in a Sunset League game at Davidson Field.

“After Edison, we’ve been stressing that this was going to come down to a three-game season,” Lofthouse said. “Getting that Fountain Valley game, now getting the Huntington Beach game, I just think like anything, you start getting that snowball moving and it keeps getting bigger and bigger, and you start playing with more confidence.

“We’ve never felt that our record is indicative of the quality of our team, and so we lost some tough games to some really good football teams.”

Huntington Beach receiver Hideo Ray completes a juggling, one-handed catch for a touchdown.
Huntington Beach receiver Hideo Ray completes a juggling, one-handed catch for a touchdown.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Newport Harbor (3-5, 2-1) has Corona del Mar (6-2, 1-2) and Los Alamitos (7-1, 3-0) remaining on the schedule, so the Sailors have their work cut out for them.

In the pandemic-shortened season, the Sailors and Sea Kings played in a defensive struggle that CdM won 10-7 on April 2.

Newport Harbor will hope that its defense can again make some plays in the Battle of the Bay rivalry game next Friday.

Special teams went the way of the Sailors against Huntington Beach (4-4, 1-2).

Johnny Chaix blocked two punts in the first quarter. The first led to a six-yard touchdown pass by AJ Guitron-Moore to Irving. Chaix made the scoop and scored himself on the second to give Newport Harbor a 14-0 lead.

Johnny Chaix  of Newport Harbor blocks a punt by Tyler Moses (3) which led to a touchdown during a Sunset League game.
Johnny Chaix of Newport Harbor blocks a punt by Tyler Moses, which led to a touchdown.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Connor Chenier, who had 2½ sacks for the Sailors, described the emotion of watching big plays unfold on special teams.

“So pumped up,” Chenier said. “You go from making a good play, they’ve got to punt it, and to make it an even better play, it makes us so pumped up, ready to attack.”

Irving finished with 163 rushing yards and 71 receiving yards. Guitron-Moore threw for 165 yards and three touchdowns to go with an interception.

Kashton Henjum had a receiving touchdown for the Sailors. Newport Harbor put the game away with a 25-yard touchdown from Guitron-Moore to Josiah Lamarque on a fourth-and-six play with 4:57 left.

Newport Harbor quarterback AJ Guitron-Moore  throws on the run against Huntington Beach.
Newport Harbor quarterback AJ Guitron-Moore throws on the run.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“AJ threw a great ball,” Lofthouse said. “Josiah ran by the corner, and so we’re very confident in those guys’ abilities to make those plays in those tough spots.”

Lofthouse said that he did not name Guitron-Moore as the starter until Thursday, but teammates say the latter has been putting in the work to gain their trust.

“The kid’s a stud,” Irving said of Guitron-Moore. “He’s been staying 30 minutes after practice with our receivers just working on that timing, getting it so they can perfect their craft, and it’s worked out perfectly.”

AJ Perez threw for 271 yards and four touchdowns to lead Huntington Beach offensively. Hideo Ray and Tyler Moses each surpassed 100 yards receiving with two touchdowns. Perez was also the Oilers’ leading rusher, gaining 51 yards on the ground.

Huntington Beach quarterback AJ Perez takes off running after being chased from the pocket against Newport Harbor.
Huntington Beach quarterback AJ Perez takes off running after being chased from the pocket on third down.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Huntington Beach would have assured itself at least a .500 record with a win, which would have made the Oilers eligible to receive an at-large selection into the CIF Southern Section playoffs.

The Oilers finish the season with games against league-leading Los Alamitos and Edison (5-3, 2-1).

“There’s no quit in these guys,” Huntington Beach coach Brett Brown said.

“They’re going to battle no matter what happens. We lean on our playmakers and tonight they made plays. We just didn’t make enough, and we didn’t get stops when we needed to, and we didn’t move the chains when we needed to, as well. I think if we fixed the special teams stuff, that game is going down to the wire.”

Sunset League

Newport Harbor 45, Huntington Beach 27

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Huntington Beach 7 – 13 – 0 – 7 – 27

Newport Harbor 14 – 17 – 7 – 7 – 45

FIRST QUARTER

NH – Irving 6 pass from Guitron-Moore (Richardson kick), 9:48.

NH – Chaix 3 punt block (Richardson kick), 3:34.

HB – Moses 6 pass from Perez (Morin kick), 2:02.

SECOND QUARTER

NH – Richardson 41 FG, 11:07.

HB – Ray 39 pass from Perez (Morin kick), 8:55.

NH – Henjum 7 pass from Guitron-Moore (Richardson kick), 3:53.

HB – Ray 42 pass from Perez (Moses run failed), 1:23.

NH – Irving 7 run (Richardson kick), 0:25.

THIRD QUARTER

NH – Irving 20 run (Richardson kick), 5:35.

FOURTH QUARTER

HB – Moses 19 pass from Perez (Morin kick), 9:28.

NH – Lamarque 25 pass from Guitron-Moore (Richardson kick), 4:57.

INDIVIDUAL RUSHING

HB – Perez, 6-51.

NH – Irving, 22-163, 2 TDs.

INDIVIDUAL PASSING

HB – Perez, 21-36-1, 271, 4 TDs.

NH – Guitron-Moore, 14-26-1, 165, 3 TDs.

INDIVIDUAL RECEIVING

HB – Ray, 6-103, 2 TDs; Moses, 6-101, 2 TDs.

NH – Irving, 7-71, 1 TD; Lamarque, 3-48, 1 TD.

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