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Cypress’ late field goal ends Newport Harbor’s repeat bid

Newport Harbor's Kashton Henjum walks off the field after the Sailors lost to Cypress at Western High School on Friday.
Newport Harbor’s Kashton Henjum walks off the field after the Sailors lost to Cypress in a CIF Southern Section Division 4 football semifinal game at Western High School on Friday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

With 11 minutes and 11 seconds remaining, the Newport Harbor High football team retook the lead, moving closer to its wish to appear in consecutive CIF Southern Section title games.

A Cypress rally, capped by a last-minute field goal, then struck midnight on the Sailors’ season.

Logan Kennedy’s 36-yard field goal had just enough to clear the uprights with nine seconds on the clock, as Cypress handed Newport Harbor a 17-14 defeat on Friday in a Division 4 semifinal game at Handel Stadium.

Newport Harbor's Johnny Chaix holds his head following Cypress' go-ahead field goal in the final seconds on Friday.
Newport Harbor’s Johnny Chaix holds his head following Cypress’ go-ahead field goal in the final seconds of the CIF Southern Section Division 4 football semifinal game at Western High School on Friday.
(Scott Smeltzer/Los Angeles Times)

“It was crazy, to be honest, because when I kicked it, I slipped,” Kennedy said. “I couldn’t really see the ball fully go in, but I could see everybody [say], ‘Oh, it went in.’ At that point, just a big sigh of relief. I just felt amazing.”

Kennedy had had two, unsuccessful field-goal attempts earlier in the game, including one that was blocked by Newport Harbor’s Johnny Chaix.

Cypress (13-0), which pulled out a last-play win on a two-point conversion at Long Beach Millikan in the second round, is heading into the CIF finals with an undefeated record for the second time in the past four years. The Centurions lost to Temecula Valley 28-21 in the Division 7 final in 2019.

Seeking its first section championship since beating Pacifica in the Southern Division final in 2007, Cypress will host Downey on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Newport Harbor head coach Peter Lofthouse addresses his team following a loss against Cypress on Friday.
Newport Harbor head coach Peter Lofthouse addresses his team following a loss against Cypress in a CIF Southern Section Division 4 football semifinal game on Friday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

The emotions came pouring out of the Sailors following the back-and-forth semifinal. Newport Harbor had hoped to become the first team in program history to win back-to-back CIF titles.

“It’s every football team, I think,” Newport Harbor football coach Peter Lofthouse said of the feelings expressed during the tough goodbyes. “It’s more for this group because they had a shot at state. We got really close here for a shot to get back-to-back, and unfortunately, to come up short, you see a whole lot of emotions come out here because it’s not just a one-semester sport.

“It’s a culmination of 365 days, and you’re talking about years and years and years that these kids have all put in.”

Newport Harbor's Tommy Robinson makes a catch over Cypress' Bobby Castillo during a CIF Division 4 semifinal game on Friday.
Newport Harbor’s Tommy Robinson makes a catch over Cypress’ Bobby Castillo during a CIF Southern Section Division 4 football semifinal game on Friday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Newport Harbor (8-5), which beat Temecula Valley for the Division 6 crown last season, had ridden an explosive offense to reach the semifinals, averaging 46 points across its wins against Valencia and Newbury Park.

It looked like the train would keep rolling when Colton Joseph found Josiah Lamarque for a 4-yard touchdown on the opening drive, but neither team scored again in the first half.

Cypress turned the tables on Newport Harbor in scoring on its first possession coming out of halftime. The Centurions drove 65 yards in four plays to take a 7-6 lead on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Aidan Houston to Matthew Morrell.

Newport Harbor's quarterback Colton Joseph throws a pass against Cypress on Friday.
Newport Harbor’s quarterback Colton Joseph throws a pass during a CIF Southern Section Division 4 football semifinal game against Cypress on Friday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

The Newport Harbor defense was on the field for 12 plays the next time Cypress had the ball. In a key sequence for the Sailors, Robby Crowell made an ankle tackle of Houston to stop the scrambling quarterback 4 yards short of the first down. Then Chaix flew in off the left side of the line to block Kennedy’s 32-yard field goal attempt.

The Sailors capitalized. Joseph connected with Lamarque three times for 72 yards on an 80-yard drive, including a 29-yard deep ball on fourth-and-inches to put Newport Harbor in the red zone.

The senior quarterback then evaded a tackle in running off the right side of the offensive line for a 9-yard score, adding a two-point conversion when Kashton Henjum came down with a jump ball in the right corner of the end zone.

In a matter of 72 seconds, the lead had vanished, as Houston and Morrell hooked up again on a 41-yard touchdown on a quick slant route.

Cypress' Matthew Morrell runs up field for a second-half touchdown against Newport Harbor on Friday.
Cypress’ Matthew Morrell runs up field for a second-half touchdown against Newport Harbor on Friday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

“He can turn every play into a touchdown,” Cypress coach Rick Feldman said of Morrell, who has committed to Oregon State for baseball. “That puts a lot of pressure on the defense, and now they have to put two guys out there, so we’re able to run the ball a little bit better.”

Morrell had six catches for 140 yards and two touchdowns, but perhaps the biggest catch of the night was a 35-yard grab downfield by Trevor Monteleone to put the Centurions in field-goal range for the eventual game-winning kick.

Houston produced 310 yards of total offense, including 100 rushing yards on 14 carries.

Newport Harbor's Kashton Henjum makes a catch over Cypress' Jesse Mauldin for a two-point conversion on Friday.
Newport Harbor’s Kashton Henjum makes a catch over Cypress’ Jesse Mauldin for a two-point conversion on Friday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Joseph threw for 283 yards and a touchdown, adding 30 yards and another score as a runner. Lamarque caught seven passes for 119 yards. Henjum had 54 receiving yards, and running back Payton Irving gained 76 yards of total offense (39 rushing).

Cameron Denoon recorded a sack, and Trace Werner and Alexe Pappageorge teamed up for another for Newport Harbor defensively.

“It was awesome,” Lamarque said of a highly successful two-year stretch for the Sailors. “It was the best time of my life. It was the best time of a lot of our lives. We all do this for one another, so it’s just going to emotionally hurt for a while. A lot of us have been doing this for the last two years on varsity, so for it to end this way, it’s going to leave a sharp pain in our heart.”

Newport Harbor's Josiah Lamarque stiff arms Cypress' Bobby Castillo during a CIF Division 4 semifinal game on Friday.
Newport Harbor’s Josiah Lamarque stiff arms Cypress’ Bobby Castillo during a CIF Southern Section Division 4 football semifinal game on Friday.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

CIF Southern Section Division 4 playoffs

Cypress 17, Newport Harbor 14

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Cypress 0 – 7 – 0 – 10 — 17

Newport Harbor 6 – 0 – 0 – 8 — 14

FIRST QUARTER

NH — Lamarque 4 pass from Joseph (Richardson kick failed), 5:49.

THIRD QUARTER

C — Morrell 7 pass from Houston (Kennedy kick), 10:29.

FOURTH QUARTER

NH — Joseph 9 run (Henjum pass from Joseph), 11:11.

C — Morrell 41 pass from Houston (Kennedy kick), 9:59.

C — Kennedy 36 FG, 0:09.

INDIVIDUAL RUSHING

NH — Irving, 14-39; Joseph, 6-30, 1 TD.

C — Houston, 14-110.

INDIVIDUAL PASSING

NH — Joseph, 18-29-0, 283, 1 TD.

C — Houston, 11-23-0, 200, 2 TDs.

INDIVIDUAL RECEIVING

NH — Lamarque, 7-119, 1 TD.

C — Morrell, 6-140, 2 TDs.

::

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