IRVINE — You have to go all the way back 22 years for the last time Corona del Mar High stood at 6-1. That same year, in the following football game, the Sea Kings lost.
The Sea Kings almost experienced the same fate Thursday night. They didn't let history repeat itself.
Oh, did they come close to getting upset.
The top-ranked team in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division survived, coming from behind to beat Woodbridge, 31-30, and remain undefeated in Pacific Coast League play.
The Sea Kings (7-1, 3-0 in league) haven't dropped their last eight league contests dating back to last year, when they won the league crown.
The Warriors (3-5, 0-3) got two cracks to become the first team to end CdM's unbeaten streak in league. With three seconds left, Donald Jackson attempted a potential 35-yard game-winning field goal.
The kick stood no chance as it went wide right. The Sea Kings began to celebrate on the field as time expired, throwing their helmets in the air.
It was premature as one referee flagged CdM for a running-into-the kicker penalty. The game cannot end on a defensive penalty. With no time on the clock, Jackson had another chance, this time from five yards closer.
The 30-yard field-goal attempt was no good and the Sea Kings were now able to toss those helmets wherever they wished. The Sea Kings are off to their best start since 1988, when they went on to win a section crown.
The first objective is claiming a second straight league title. Championship teams pull out these nail biters.
In Coach Scott Meyer's first year at the helm, CdM has shown it can win the close games and win big.
The latest decision was a huge one. The Sea Kings rallied from a 30-10 deficit midway through the third quarter.
While they failed to keep running back Derek Calderon (235 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries) in check, the Sea Kings knocked out Woodbridge's starting quarterback, Matt Callahan.
Callahan left the game after Cole Cottrell returned a 50-yard punt for a touchdown. Someone laid out Callahan, the punter, near the CdM sideline, allowing Cottrell to spring loose and cut the Warriors' lead to 30-24 with 1:42 left in the third quarter.
With Callahan on the sideline on crutches, Woodbridge had no pass attack.
The Sea Kings did with Brent Lawson, who threw two touchdown passes to wide receiver Josh Giger (six catches for 141 yards). The biggest was a 72-yard strike with 7:11 left in the fourth quarter that gave CdM a 31-30 lead, its first advantage of the night.
The Sea Kings did not allow a first down in the second half until the Warriors' final drive, coming with 82 seconds left in the game. On a fourth-and-five on Woodbridge's 28, the Warriors went to their fourth quarterback to keep the drive alive.
Tommy Kelley hit David McCutchan for a 44-yard pass. Kelley kept making plays, even after linebacker Aaron White sacked him for a seven-yard loss. Kelley moved the Warriors to CdM's 18, setting up the game-winning field goal try.
When the first one failed to go through the uprights, CdM gave the Warriors a second opportunity with the penalty. The second attempt looked more promising, but it missed as well.
The finish was crazy, but so was most of the contest. This game had it all, two blocked punts, two fake punts, a punt returned for a touchdown, a fumble on a kickoff return, two fumbles on long runs, and a missed extra-point kick.
The missed PAT hurt the Warriors. They make it in the third quarter and they're even at the end.
All that matters to CdM is that it moved a step closer to clinching at least a share of the league title. Woodbridge remains searching for its first league win.
Corona del Mar 31, Woodbridge 30
SCORE BY QUARTERS
CdM 0 – 3 – 21 – 7 — 31
Woodbridge 7 – 10 – 13 – 0 — 30
W – Calderon 95 run (Jackson kick), 1:31.
CdM – Garrett 23 FG, 9:48.
W – DeFreitas 12 run (Jackson kick), 3:18.
W – Jackson 25 FG, :11.
CdM – Lawson 22 run (Garrett kick), 9:25.
W – Calderon 29 run (Jackson kick), 8:58.
W – Kelley 15 pass from Callahan (kick failed), 5:08.
CdM – Giger 19 pass from Lawson (Garrett kick), 3:41.
CdM – Cottrell 50 punt return (Garrett kick), 1:42.
CdM – Giger 72 pass from Lawson (Garrett kick), 7:11.
CdM – Fisher, 25-156.
W – Calderon, 23-235, 2 TD.
CdM – Lawson, 10-18-0, 227, 1 TD.
W – Callahan, 7-12-0, 75, 1 TD.
CdM – Giger, 6-141, 1 TD.
W – McCutchan, 6-87.