Huntington Beach High stood 36 yards away from beating Edison in a Sunset League football game for the first time in 25 years.
Less than four minutes remained in Friday’s game at Cap Sheue Field, where the Oilers, with a new set of downs at the Chargers’ 36, trailed by six points.
They failed to move any closer to the end zone.
Two sacks, followed by an offensive pass interference penalty that negated a 31-yard pass play on fourth-and-18 ended the Oilers’ drive and night. The host Chargers held on for a 20-14 victory, winning for the first time in league play this season.
For the third consecutive week, Edison (3-4, 1-1 in league) went down to the wire with an opponent on the same field. The previous two times the Chargers played from behind late and came up short of pulling off the comeback win.
Isaiah Palmer’s five-yard touchdown run gave Edison the lead with about 9½ minutes to go against Huntington Beach. The rest of the way, Trent Fletcher made sure to keep the Chargers on top of the ninth-ranked team in the CIF Southern Section Division 6 poll.
The defensive end produced three of his four sacks in the final 8½ minutes, the last two coming on consecutive plays with Huntington Beach (5-2, 1-1) in Edison territory. Fletcher dropped quarterback Brandon Cannella for a five-yard loss on second down, then for a three-yard loss on third down, setting up a fourth-and-18 situation at the 44 with 1:47 left.
Fletcher and Cannella used to be teammates at Edison, until Cannella transferred to Huntington Beach before his sophomore year last season. Cannella got away from Edison again, this time on the fourth-down pass, which the junior threw up for Jeremiah Flanagan. The 6-foot-4 wide receiver outjumped the two smaller defensive backs and came down with the ball on the 13.
But the officials ruled that Flanagan pushed off. He was called for offensive pass interference, nullifying the big catch and pushing the Oilers back to their 41.
Faced with a fourth-and-33, Cannella scrambled to his left before coming back to his right to fire a pass toward the middle of the field. The pass didn’t go for 33 yards, but it traveled right to No. 33, Edison linebacker Luke Hoggard, who batted the ball down. The Chargers took over on downs with 69 seconds left and they ran out the clock, improving to 34-6-1 all-time against Huntington Beach.
“We got it done,” said Fletcher, who also helped the defense limit Huntington Beach running back Arick McLawyer to eight rushing yards, 99 below his average through the first six games. “But it was pretty ugly on offense and defense.”
Two mistakes on special teams by Huntington Beach resulted in two Edison touchdowns. The second miscue allowed the Chargers to jump ahead 2½ minutes into the fourth quarter.
Huntington Beach punter Cole Kaplan mishandled the snap and Mike Walters swarmed in to take the ball away from Kaplan inside the Oilers’ 20-yard line. Four plays later, Palmer put the Chargers up by six.
Edison also turned the ball over on its first three second-half possessions, once on downs and twice on interceptions. Flanagan, a cornerback, picked off quarterback Braeden Boyles midway through the third quarter, playing a key role in the Oilers retaking the lead. Flanagan ran a streak up the sideline and Cannella hit him in stride for a 35-yard touchdown pass, giving Huntington Beach a 14-13 lead.
“They believed they were going to win the whole game,” said Oilers coach Brett Brown, whose defense only allowed Boyles to complete eight of 20 passes for 87 yards. “I did, too.”
Things began in favor of Huntington Beach. The Oilers had defeated Edison before, in the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Southwest Division playoffs five years ago, but not in the Sunset League since 1993.
The Oilers’ first possession started with great field position, at the opponent’s 41. And they made the most of it, capping a six-play drive with Cannella’s nine-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Christian Moore. Huntington Beach went for two points, and McLawyer ran it in for an 8-0 lead with 7:11 left in the first quarter.
Five minutes later, Huntington Beach was about to take over near its 40-yard line, then Flanagan muffed the punt. Mateo Liau recovered the fumble for Edison, and the turnover led to the Chargers’ first score.
Walters, playing quarterback in the Wildcat, rushed for a six-yard touchdown eight seconds into the second quarter. The Chargers were unable to attempt the extra-point kick as holder Craig Erickson struggled with the snap. McLawyer tackled Erickson as soon as he tried to run with the ball.
Then during a one-minute stretch, both teams missed on opportunities to strike for long touchdowns. Cannella overthrew a streaking Flanagan near midfield on third down, and on first down, Boyles underthrew Ryan Rivituso, and McLawyer, playing safety, broke up the pass around the Oilers’ 20-yard line.
Edison found a way to score three minutes later.
Kobe Lopez, who rushed 23 times for 168 yards, ripped a 23-yard run on third-and-25, leaving the offense at Huntington Beach’s 41. After a timeout, the Chargers decided to go for it on fourth down. Walters went in at quarterback, faking the handoff, before running right and then up field for a 41-yard touchdown to give Edison a 13-8 lead with 6:52 to go before halftime.
“We started slow on both sides of the ball,” said Edison coach Jeff Grady, whose team outrushed Huntington Beach, 253 yards to two. “But we finished strong.”
Edison 20, Huntington Beach 14
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Huntington Beach 8 – 0 – 6 – 0 — 14
Edison 0 – 13 – 0 – 7 — 20
HB – Moore 9 pass from Cannella (McLawyer run), 7:11.
E – Walters 6 run (run failed), 11:52.
E – Walters 41 run (Spradlin kick), 6:52.
HB – Flanagan 35 pass from Cannella (pass failed), 5:25.
E – Palmer 5 run (Spradlin kick), 9:28.
HB – McLawyer, 14-8.
E – Kobe, 23-168.
HB – Cannella, 10-22-0, 167, 2 TDs.
E – Boyles, 8-20-2, 87.
HB – Bryant, 4-73.