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CdM’s Cooper Hoch off the hook in win over San Juan Hills

Cooper Hoch (1) of Corona del Mar makes a leaping catch against San Juan Hills on Thursday at Davidson Field.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Corona del Mar produced the big plays when it mattered Thursday night, rallying from a fourth-quarter deficit and then getting a huge defensive play at the end to post its most gratifying victory of the young season.

Cooper Hoch took a screen pass from Kaleb Annett at the line of scrimmage and dashed 15 yards into the end zone to give the Sea Kings a 27-22 lead over visiting San Juan Hills with a little more than three minutes to go, and defensive tackle Ryan Nielsen batted away Michael Tollefson’s fourth-down pass near midfield to ensure the victory at Davidson Field.

It was a superb finish for Corona del Mar (4-1), which watched a two-touchdown advantage disappear in the second half but responded behind a tough defense that had Tollefson scrambling all night and a passing attack that repeatedly called upon Hoch for good things.

“Bouncing back from a loss [last week against San Clemente] and because our character was tested, coming back in the fourth quarter, it [was our best win],” CdM head coach Dan O’Shea said. “We needed an emotional win like this, and I think it’s going to carry us forward very, very well.”

Defensive tackle Ryan Nielsen (45) sneaks through the offensive line to tackle quarterback Michael Tollefson for a loss.
Defensive tackle Ryan Nielsen (45) sneaks through the offensive line to tackle quarterback Michael Tollefson for a loss during a nonleague football game against San Juan Hills on Thursday at Davidson Field.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

The Sea Kings, with eight starters sidelined, take it into their bye week before opening Sunset League play Sept. 29 against Fountain Valley.

Hoch caught 15 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns — his fourth game with 100-plus yards — and Jordan Fargo grabbed five for 62 yards, three of them for first downs and another to give CdM a 21-8 lead on their first drive of the second half. Annett, making his third start in place of injured standout David Rasor, completed 27 of 40 throws for 320 yards and three scores.

It might have led to more, but penalties — there were 14 for 92 yards in all — sapped offensive rhythm and kept alive several San Juan Hills drives.

The Stallions, whose first four foes headed into this week’s games with a combined 14-0 record, came up biggest first.

Corona del Mar running back Colin Pene (7) runs into the end zone for a touchdown against San Juan Hills on Thursday.
Corona del Mar running back Colin Pene (7) runs into the end zone for a touchdown during a nonleague football game against San Juan Hills on Thursday at Davidson Field.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

After Colin Pene was judged to have stepped out of bounds at the 4-yard line following an apparent 21-yard touchdown run on the Sea Kings’ first drive, Ryan Haghani intercepted Annett in the end zone. San Juan Hills (0-5) then went 80 yards on 15 plays over six-plus minutes to take an 8-0 lead on Sullivan Land’s 7-yard run and Tollefson’s 2-point push.

Corona del Mar responded quickly, covering 91 yards in eight plays, with Annett hooking up with Hoch on a 44-yard bomb to set up Pene’s 7-yard score with 10 seconds left in the opening quarter.

The Sea Kings went ahead 14-8, on their next possession, Annett finding Hoch at the back-right corner of the end zone for a 9-yard completion, and it was 21-6 on his 5-yard toss to Fargo at the start of the second half.

Tollefson, who completed 17 of 29 passes for 156 yards, was under pressure all night, and the Stallions punted six times, half of them following three-and-out series. They closed the gap to 21-15 with three minutes to play in the third quarter, on a 3-yard Land run, then went ahead by a point after getting the ball back.

A host of Corona del Mar defenders bring down San Juan Hills quarterback Michael Tollefson on Thursday at Davidson Field.
A host of Corona del Mar defenders bring down quarterback Michael Tollefson during a nonleague football game against San Juan Hills on Thursday at Davidson Field.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Tollefson followed his 27-yard sprint into CdM territory with a 37-yard lob to Briggs Marquis, then scored from the 3-yard line two plays later.

After both teams failed to move on their next possessions, Corona del Mar marched 65 yards for the winning touchdown behind Annett, who hit on four of five passes — three of them to Hoch — and scrambled for gains of 12 and 9 yards. Hoch hit the end zone with 3:11 to go.

“I had to get skinny, get through the gap, and walked in,” Hoch said. “As soon as I caught it, I knew I was getting in.”

“That last drive was kind of like a test for us,” Annett said. “Play together, play as one and play as family.”

San Juan Hills then moved the ball from its 20 to the Sea Kings 45 with help from a controversial pass-interference call on third-and-13. CdM’s defense then came up big, forcing a 1-yard loss on a screen pass and then an incompletion, and Nielsen then forced Tollefson to his knee for an 8-yard sack. Nielsen’s swat on the next play ended all suspense.

Corona del Mar receiver Jordan Fargo (14) celebrates a touchdown catch with teammates against San Juan Hills on Thursday.
Corona del Mar receiver Jordan Fargo (14) celebrates a touchdown catch with teammates during a nonleague football game against San Juan Hills on Thursday at Davidson Field.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Nonleague

Corona del Mar 27, San Juan Hills 22

SCORE BY QUARTERS

San Juan Hills 8 - 0 - 7 - 7 — 22

Corona del Mar 7 - 7 - 7 - 6 — 27

FIRST QUARTER

SJH — Land 7 run (Tollefson run), 3:18.

CdM — Pene 7 run (Pene kick), 0:10.

SECOND QUARTER

CdM — Hoch 9 pass from Annett (Pene kick), 8:33.

THIRD QUARTER

CdM —Fargo 5 pass from Annett (Pene kick), 8:12.

SJH — Land 3 run (Morrow kick), 2:56.

FOURTH QUARTER

SJH — Tollefson 3 run (Morrow kick), 9:48.

CdM — Hoch 15 pass from Annett (pass failed), 3:11.

INDIVIDUAL RUSHING

SJH — Land, 13-60, 2 TD;Tollefson, 20-51, 1 TD.

CdM — Pene, 14-47, 1 TD.

INDIVIDUAL PASSING

SJH — Tollefson, 17-29-0, 156.

CdM — Annett, 27-40-1, 320, 3 TDs.

INDIVIDUAL RECEIVING

SJH — Chase, 9-56; Marquis 3-43.

CdM — Hoch, 15-206, 2 TDs; Fargo, 5-62, 1 TD; Kubichek, 4-39.

San Juan Hills quarterback Michael Tollefson can't escape the sack of Corona del Mar middle linebacker Christian Brooks.
San Juan Hills quarterback Michael Tollefson can’t escape the sack of Corona del Mar middle linebacker Christian Brooks during a nonleague football game on Thursday at Davidson Field.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

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