Laguna Beach tries to get past loss

It's been a busy week for the Laguna Beach High football team, which had just three practice days to prepare for another Orange Coast League opponent.

Six days after opening league play against Estancia, the Breakers took on Calvary Chapel on Thursday night. The score from that game wasn't available at press time.

Last week, Laguna suffered its first defeat of the season when defending league champion Estancia scored a 35-14 victory in the Breakers' homecoming game at Guyer Field. The Breakers never led in the contest and couldn't contain Eagles running back Robert Murtha. Last year's OCL Player of the Year rolled for 255 yards and three touchdowns.

Laguna dropped from fifth to ninth in this week's CIF Southern Division poll, while Estancia moved up from sixth to fourth.

"We got beat by a real good football team," Laguna Coach Mike Churchill said after the Breakers were held to their lowest point total of the season. "They are just so much bigger up front than we are, and they pretty much ran on us all night.

"We just need to regroup from this and win our next four games, finish 9-1, and head to the playoffs."

A two-yard touchdown run by Murtha had given Estancia the lead after its first possession, but Laguna stormed right back on its opening possession to tie the score on an eight-play, 80-yard drive that ended on a spectacular pass play. Quarterback Larry Stewart lofted a perfectly placed throw downfield that receiver Travis Clawson ran down to make an incredible, one-handed grab at the Estancia 11. Clawson's momentum carried the senior into the end zone to complete a 38-yard scoring play that electrified the Laguna crowd.

Estancia took the lead again on its next drive when quarterback Brad Wilson scored one a five-yard keeper, but that lead looked to be short-lived after Laguna's Nathan Lancaster took the ensuing kickoff back 90 yards for an apparent touchdown. The stirring return by the sophomore was negated by a holding call against the Breakers on the play.

The Eagles went in front, 21-7, after a 12-yard run by Murtha, but the Breakers responded and pulled to within, 21-14, with 3:40 left in the first half on Drake Martinez's 22-yard touchdown run. Laguna also had a chance to pull into a tie in the closing minute of the half after reaching the Estancia five-yard line, where it had first and goal with 45 seconds left and no time outs left. On a second down play, Estancia linebacker Alex Rodriguez broke through to drop running back Norton Penney for a three-yard loss.

The first-half clock then ran out on the Breakers.

"Alex made a huge stop for us," Estancia Coach Mike Bargas said. "That gave us some momentum going into halftime."

Wilson scored on a one-yard keeper late in the third quarter to allow Estancia to open up a 28-14 lead. Murtha's third touchdown run of the game, another two-yarder less than three minutes into the fourth quarter, made it a three-touchdown cushion.

"I thought we were out of sorts a bit in the first half while trying to adjust to all the chaos that was going on in their (Laguna Beach) backfield," said Bargas, whose team had to content with the Breakers' potent Wing-T formations. "But we did a real nice job in the second half. Laguna's a good team and to hold that offense to just 14 points is something."

Stewart threw for 154 yards and Martinez led the Breakers in rushing with 89 yards. The effort by Martinez left the junior just 50 yards shy of reaching 1,000 yards rushing for the season.

Next week, Laguna takes on Godinez in an Oct. 28 league game at Segerstrom High in Santa Ana.

Twitter: @MikeSciacca

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