MISSION VIEJO — On one swing of the Corona del Mar High kicker's leg before halftime, the momentum swung the other way.
A 52-yard field-goal try by Grif Amies resulted in a 52-yard special teams return for a touchdown at the end of the first half.
The finish to the first half at Capistrano Valley was bizarre. What looked like a potential go-ahead scoring drive by the Sea Kings to close the half wound up with the Cougars taking the lead instead.
They never looked back after returning a blocked field-goal attempt for a touchdown. The Cougars scored the game's final 17 points and won, 24-7, at home on Friday night.
The setback is the second straight for CdM (2-2), which has lost consecutive games for the first time in three years. The collapse on special teams was the first of five mistakes committed by the Sea Kings, ranked No. 4 in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division.
"That was a big swing," said CdM Coach Scott Meyer, who saw his team turn the ball over four times in the second half. "We were going in with a chance to score and they made a great play. He just about took it off the tee it seemed."
The player who stopped CdM from taking a 10-7 lead before halftime was Ben Orem.
The Sea Kings brought out their reliable kicker. Amies has converted before from 52 yards this season, but Orem never let the ball rise.
Orem shot through the line and used his entire 6-foot-7 frame while diving toward the placeholder. He blocked the kick, and the ball bounced toward midfield, where Adam Gordon caught it on a bounce and raced in for a touchdown.
With 12 seconds left before halftime, the Cougars (4-1) needed Gordon again. He converted the extra-point kick and Capistrano Valley took a 14-7 lead. The lead was the Cougars' first. They jumped ahead by starting and closing the second quarter strong.
The only big play Capistrano Valley allowed was a 69-yard touchdown, coming late in the opening quarter. The touchdown probably never should've materialized, but CdM quarterback Cayman Carter isn't easy to bring down.
Two would-be tacklers seemed to have Carter for a sack, until he broke loose and kept the play alive. He scrambled to his right and spotted a wide-open Chris Johnstone downfield. Carter hit Johnstone near midfield and the receiver went into the end zone untouched.
The Sea Kings' passing game wasn't as successful in the second half.
Three times Capistrano Valley intercepted passes in the final two quarters. The first came on the opening drive in the second half.
CdM reached the opponent's 11, before Jeff Shott leaped to pick off a pass in the end zone. Shott seemed to be everywhere. The defensive back also recovered a CdM fumble near midfield in the third quarter.
Despite the two turnovers, the Cougars didn't take advantage. They made the most of the next two turnovers, though.
Gordon returned an interception 36 yards, leaving Capistrano Valley near the red zone. The Cougars settled for a 27-yard field goal by Gordon and led, 17-7.
They didn't settle for three on the next interception. They went for it on fourth-and-11 on the Sea Kings' 22. Quarterback Mason Dossey found Michael Mullen on a touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter to put away CdM.
The Sea Kings' second loss in as many games was by much more than the one against rival Newport Harbor.
"I don't think we were hung over from last week at all," said Meyer, whose team suffered a heartbreaking 27-26 loss in the Battle of the Bay. "We played a real tough first half. They blocked the kick and made a few key plays that kind of turned the whole momentum."
Capistrano Valley 24, Corona del Mar 7
SCORE BY QUARTERS
CdM 7 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 7
Capo Valley 0 – 14 – 3 – 7 – 24
CdM – Johnstone 69 pass from Carter (Amies kick), 1:57.
CV – Lanham 8 run (A. Gordon kick), 3:42.
CV – A. Gordon 52 blocked field goal return (A. Gordon kick), 0:12.
CV – A. Gordon 27 FG, 0:06.
CV – Mullen 22 pass from Dossey (A. Gordon kick), 9:28.
CdM – Carter, 15-46.
CV – Lanham, 19-56, 1 TD.
CdM – Carter, 13-30-3, 188, 1 TD.
CV – Dossey, 19-32-1, 163, 1 TD.
CdM – Johnstone, 4-89, 1 TD.
CV – Mullen, 5-57, 1 TD.