IRVINE — The Corona del Mar High football team used long drives to end a long victory drought in the Pacific Coast League.
The visiting Sea Kings had touchdown marches of 10, 12 and 10 plays to help produce a 28-23 triumph Thursday at Irvine High. It was the first win in the last seven league games for CdM (5-1-1, 1-0-1 in league), which last defeated a league foe Nov. 14, 2008.
Senior Clay Reinhardt spearheaded a productive offense with 162 yards rushing on 26 attempts, including touchdown runs late in the second and third periods. Reinhardt also caught a four-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Mitch Gardner, who threw for 140 yards and two scores to do his part in the Sea Kings' balancing act.
CdM's final touchdown came on a seven-play procession that made it 28-20 with 1:30 left in the third period.
Irvine (2-4-1, 1-0-1) led, 6-0 and 13-7 and chose to kick a PAT with 4:06 left in the third quarter that left it behind, 21-20.
The Vaqueros had three fourth-quarter possessions, but managed only a 25-yard Tim Callian field goal with 4:59 remaining to allow CdM to escape with a hard-fought win.
A 60-yard punt by Reinhardt pinned Irvine at its own 13-yard line with 1:23 left and the defense failed to allow a first down to take over for one last play from victory formation.
CdM was, arguably, its own worst enemy, as the Sea Kings, ranked No. 4 in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division, lost two fumbles, one of which was cashed in for an Irvine touchdown.
Irvine also benefited from a nine-yard punt that led to the fourth-quarter field goal. Irvine had a first-and-goal at the CdM four-yard line before settling for the field goal, after two runs lost four yards and a third-down pass fell incomplete.
CdM might not have had to sweat things out in the final minutes, had it held on to three would-be interceptions that were dropped.
The Sea Kings were also aided by a pair of long kickoff returns by junior Cole Cottrell. Cottrell took the second-half kickoff at his own goal line and sprinted 44 yards to set up his team's third touchdown. It was a 39-yard kickoff return by Cottrell that helped lead to a 60-yard touchdown drive that finalized the Sea Kings' scoring.
Reinhardt, operating behind an offensive line of tackles Dan Steele and Liam Duddy, guards Caden Stark and Jimmy Roney, as well as center Max Priestley, averaged 6.2 years per attempt. Reinhardt picked up at least seven yards on 13 of his first 20 carries to help CdM register 10 of its 18 first downs on the ground.
The Sea Kings finished with 229 of its 369 yards of offense on the ground, no doubt helping Gardner find time in the pocket to connect with five different receivers.
Junior Josh Giger was Gardner's favorite target, compiling six catches for 49 yards.
Irvine maintained the early advantage by hurting CdM with the pass. Senior quarterback Jake Day had completions of 22 and 24 yards to fuel an 11-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that opened the scoring with 21 seconds left in the first quarter.
After the first of only two three-and-outs by the CdM offense, Day found Matt Van on a wheel route up the home sideline and Van juked two would-be tacklers to complete the 85-yard scoring play that put the hosts up, 13-6, with 5:25 left before halftime.
CdM meets No. 3-ranked Woodbridge (4-2, 1-0 heading into tonight's game with University) in a crucial PCL game Oct. 29 at Newport Harbor High.
Corona del Mar 28, Irvine 23
SCORE BY QUARTERS
CdM 0 – 14 – 14 – 0 — 28
Irvine 6 – 7 – 7 – 3 — 23
Irv – Torres 4 run (kick failed), 0:21.
CdM – Reinhardt 3 pass from Gardner (Boehm kick), 8:42.
Irv – Van 85 pass from Day (Callian kick), 5:25.
CdM – Reinhardt 4 run (Boehm kick), 0:37.
CdM – Gray 3 pass from Gardner (Boehm kick), 9:08.
Irv – Lee 12 pass from Day (Callian kick), 4:06.
CdM – Reinhardt 5 run (Boehm kick), 1:30.
Irv – Callian 25 FG, 4:59.
CdM – Reinhardt, 26-162, 2 TDs.
Irv – Day, 10-42.
CdM – Gardner,12-19-0, 140, 2 TDs.
Irv – Day, 11-27-1, 197, 2 TDs.
CdM – Giger, 6-49.
Irv – Van, 3-111, 1 TD.