NEWPORT BEACH — Preston Risser intercepted the football game's first pass and he had a chance to pick off the last one Friday night.
The linebacker did not intercept the final pass, but he did the second best thing for Corona del Mar High and he saved the Sea Kings.
With 21 seconds left to play, Risser deflected a pass on fourth-and-four inside the Sea Kings' 10, allowing CdM to hold on and upset Huntington Beach, 16-10, Friday night.
Risser and the rest of the Sea Kings stormed onto the field at Newport Harbor High after CdM ran out the clock. The Sea Kings are off to a 2-0 start.
They have shown they can win big, evident from the season opener, and now win a close game.
The team CdM faced is from the juggernaut Sunset League. The Oilers' roster size dwarfed the one on the CdM sideline.
The Sea Kings' defense rose to the occasion, knocking out Huntington Beach's starting quarterback midway through the opening quarter. Before Jake Umphreyville left the field, the Sea Kings stripped the ball out of his hands and recovered the ball.
CdM shut down the Oilers in the first, third and fourth quarters. The defense and specials teams helped the Sea Kings score enough points to prevail.
Kicker Andrew Boehm converted field goals from 35, 21 and 27 yards. The last two came in the fourth quarter.
For the second straight week, Cole Cottrell sparked CdM with his punt returns. Early in the fourth quarter, he returned a punt 39 yards, leaving the offense on the Oilers' 33.
Running back Clay Reinhardt ripped off a 25-yard run on first down, moving the offense inside the 10-yard line. Reinhardt, who topped 100 yards on the ground for the second straight week, could not score from one yard out.
The offense stalled, forcing Coach Jason Hitchens to bring in Boehm on a fourth-and-goal situation. Boehm made the 21-yard field goal with 8:31 left to play, giving the Sea Kings a 13-10 lead, their first since the first quarter.
CdM held on to it by stopping the Oilers. Frasier Anderson dropped running back Austin Simpkins for a one-yard loss on a third-and-two on Huntington Beach's 34. On the next play, the Oilers tried to punt, only to see Max Lambert mishandle the long snap.
Peter Markel flew in before Alex Herrera dropped the punter for an 18-yard loss. The Sea Kings took over on the Oilers' 15, great field position again. It looked like they took advantage. Running back Jeff Condino, making his first appearance this season after sitting out the opener with a bruised shoulder, broke a couple of tackles and bounced the run outside for a 16-yard run. He found the pylon and the CdM sideline erupted.
An illegal motion penalty nullified the touchdown and CdM settled for another Boehm field goal with 4:20 left in the game.
This set up one last chance for the Oilers to come back and win. Backup quarterback Michael Chislock made some plays, moving the chains. He got the offense to the Sea Kings' 10. Then the Oilers decided to hand off the ball to Simpkins on third-and-five and Anderson made another big tackle. Simpkins, who finished with 114 yards on 14 carries, gained one yard, forcing a fourth-and-four situation on the nine.
A timeout was called and when play resumed, Chislock dropped back and fired a pass in the direction of Risser.
The senior read the play and had his hands on the ball for a pick six, but he could not hold on.
The Sea Kings did and that's all that matters to Risser.
Corona del Mar 16, Huntington Beach 10
SCORE BY QUARTERS
HB 0 – 10 – 0 – 0 — 10
CdM 3 – 7 – 0 – 6 — 16
CdM – Boehm 35 FG, 9:11
HB – Vargas 23 pass from Umphreyville (Talbert kick), 9:11
HB – Talbert 38 FG, 4:54
CdM – Fisher 3 run (Boehm kick), 3:51
CdM – Boehm 21 FG, 8.31
CdM – Boehm 27 FG, 4:20
HB – Simpkins, 21-114.
CdM – Reinhardt, 17-101.
HB – Chislock, 10-27-0, 112, 1 TD.
CdM – Gardner, 9-15-0, 102.
HB – Vargas, 5-55, 1 TD.
CdM – Gray, 5-46.