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Strong second half sends CdM football past rival Newport Harbor

Corona del Mar's Scott Truninger, left, and Max Lane hoist the Master Mariner trophy after beating Newport Harbor.
Corona del Mar’s Scott Truninger, left, and Max Lane hoist the Master Mariner trophy after beating Newport Harbor in the Battle of the Bay football game at Davidson Field on Friday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

For much of its recent past, the Corona del Mar High School football team has used an electrifying offense to win a lot of games.

So it surprised many in April when the Sea Kings, albeit victorious, scored just 10 points in a defensive struggle against rival Newport Harbor.

Corona del Mar averaged 39.6 points per game in the other five games of the COVID-19 pandemic delayed spring season.

Newport Harbor went back to the blueprint that put it in contention against CdM last season, and for a half, the Sailors appeared to have the right stuff to pull off the upset. It did not last.

Junior running back Evan Sanders had two receiving touchdowns, and the CdM defense pitched a shutout in the second half, as the Sea Kings defeated Newport Harbor 35-12 on Friday in the Battle of the Bay at Davidson Field.

Corona del Mar's Max Lane (1) leaps up to meet Evan Sanders (22) after he scored a touchdown in the second half.
Corona del Mar’s Max Lane (1) leaps up to meet Evan Sanders (22) after he scored a touchdown in the second half of Friday’s game against Newport Harbor.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Corona del Mar (7-2, 2-2) earned its ninth straight win over Newport Harbor (3-6, 2-2) in the crosstown rivalry.

“I think the second half is what we thought the first half should look like, and we just had some unfortunate plays,” CdM coach Dan O’Shea said. “They did a good job of bringing pressure, but if we don’t have those tipped-ball interceptions, I think we would have been in good shape.

“I was really proud of how the offense bounced back in the second half, and I think the defense was just stout all night.”

The defenses dominated the first half. Newport Harbor had four interceptions in the first half — two by Andrew Chenier and one each by Garrett Emerson and Billy Ridley.

The Sailors secondary benefited immensely from the play of the defensive line, which pressured and hit CdM quarterback David Rasor to create a couple of the turnovers.

Corona del Mar's John Tipton makes an uncontested catch in the end zone for a touchdown against Newport Harbor.
Corona del Mar’s John Tipton makes an uncontested catch in the end zone for a touchdown.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

As a result, Newport Harbor started its first two drives in Sea Kings territory, the first at the CdM 14.

Jon Richardson made a 35-yard field goal on the opening drive, but that was all the Sailors would get out of the opportunities, as Tyler Brown grabbed an interception to end the second.

“We didn’t help our defense very much in terms of getting some of those early points when they created the turnovers in the first half,” Newport Harbor coach Peter Lofthouse said.

Rasor responded after the early turnovers with a touchdown drive, capping it with a 24-yard connection to Charlie Mannon.

The Sea Kings recovered an onside kick, and Rasor finished that drive off with a 23-yard rushing touchdown to take a 14-3 lead late in the first quarter. The scores came less than two minutes apart.

A second trip to the red zone ended in a 26-yard field goal for Richardson, and after another interception by its defense, Newport Harbor was back on the doorstep again.

On a fourth-and-five play from the CdM 15, the Sailors went for it. AJ Guitron-Moore fired across the middle to Duke Starnes, who was visibly upset after it was ruled that he did not complete the sliding catch.

Corona del Mar's Max Lane catches a pass under pressure from Newport Harbor's Carson De Avila.
Corona del Mar’s Max Lane catches a pass under pressure from Newport Harbor’s Carson De Avila.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

“I completely thought he caught the ball,” Lofthouse said. “From my angle, it looked clean.”

Guitron-Moore found Josiah Lamarque on a hitch route that went for a 38-yard touchdown, cutting into the CdM lead at 14-12 with 1:25 to go in the half.

It was a different game after halftime. A promising Newport drive to open the second half came to an end when Guitron-Moore was picked off by Jack Salmon. From there, the Sea Kings won the big downs to put the game away.

The Sea Kings would score on three consecutive drives.

Rasor threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Sanders on a wheel route on third down to extend the CdM lead to 21-12. Rasor then tossed a 27-yard touchdown to John Tipton on fourth down, and Sanders took a screen pass 41 yards to the end zone on another fourth down.

Newport Harbor's Josiah Lamarque scores a touchdown during the Battle of the Bay football game at Davidson Field.
Newport Harbor’s Josiah Lamarque scores a touchdown during the Battle of the Bay game.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

“We just switched it up, put me as a wide receiver, kept doing swings, just out on routes,” said Sanders, who was held to 22 rushing yards on eight carries.

Kaulin Post also had an interception for the Sea Kings. Corona del Mar held Newport Harbor to 15 rushing yards.

“We knew we were going to stop the run game with our front seven box,” CdM linebacker Brady Sarkisian said. “We were really confident in that, and once they started airing it out, our [defensive backs] picked up on it [and] made plays.”

Newport Harbor's Payton Irving is tackled by Corona del Mar's Mason Kubichek during the Battle of the Bay football game.
Newport Harbor’s Payton Irving is tackled by Corona del Mar’s Mason Kubichek.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Sunset League

Corona del Mar 35, Newport Harbor 12

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Corona del Mar 14 – 0 – 14 – 7 – 35

Newport Harbor 3 – 9 – 0 – 0 – 12

FIRST QUARTER

NH – Richardson 35 FG, 9:57.

CdM – Mannon 24 pass from Rasor (Pene kick), 5:44.

CdM – Rasor 23 run (Pene kick), 3:56.

SECOND QUARTER

NH – Richardson 26 FG, 9:42.

NH – Lamarque 38 pass from Guitron-Moore (Guitron-Moore pass failed), 1:25.

THIRD QUARTER

CdM – Sanders 12 pass from Rasor (Pene kick), 5:08.

CdM – Tipton 27 pass from Rasor (Pene kick), 0:45.

FOURTH QUARTER

CdM – Sanders 41 pass from Rasor (Pene kick), 9:19.

INDIVIDUAL RUSHING

CdM – Rasor, 8-59, 1 TD.

NH – Guitron-Moore, 1-8.

INDIVIDUAL PASSING

CdM – Rasor, 21-35-4, 228, 4 TDs.

NH – Guitron-Moore, 20-38-3, 173, 1 TD.

INDIVIDUAL RECEIVING

CdM – Sanders, 5-61, 2 TDs.

NH – Lamarque, 6-75, 1 TD.

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