HUNTINGTON BEACH — For much of Friday's Sunset League football opener at Cap Sheue Field, the Huntington Beach Oilers found a way to stay within striking distance of the Fountain Valley Barons.
Fountain Valley held the lead on their neighboring rival for 45-plus minutes and still seemed in control late, but in the end, host Huntington found a way to pull out a big victory.
Junior quarterback Kai Ross hit senior wide receiver Marco Valenzuela with a short inside pass, and Valenzuela turned the play into a 66-yard touchdown with 2:35 left. It gave the Oilers their first lead and an eventual, 13-10 comeback win.
In a game it trailed, 10-0, at the half, Huntington came up with a solid defensive effort, and a few key plays offensively, to stun the Barons in the end.
"Our kids played hard," Huntington Coach Eric Lo said. "Our defense played well the entire game, our special teams did a great job, and we had a couple of plays. It's a nice win for us."
Huntington, which evened its overall record at 3-3, took over at its own 16-yard line with 4:59 remaining in the game. The Oilers kept the drive alive when senior running back Bowen "Bo" Breunig gained four yards to the Huntington 40 on a fourth-and-three play. On second down from the 40, Breunig ran for two yards but the Oilers were called for holding on the play. With the ball moved back to the 34, Ross threw to Valenzuela at the 45 and Valenzuela turned up the middle and raced untouched to the end zone. Wyatt Marlow added the conversion.
"It was a slip route," Lo said of the go-ahead touchdown pass. "[The Barons] rolled their safety and we came up with a big play."
Fountain Valley (3-3) got the ball back at its own 27. After quarterback Chris d'Entremont threw incomplete on first down, a host of Huntington defenders dragged d'Entremont down for a 12-yard loss. d'Entremont threw long on third down, but his pass intended for receiver Sal Ochoa fell incomplete at the Huntington 43. On fourth down, d'Entremont was harassed again by the Oiler defense, and Huntington took over on downs at the Fountain Valley 16 with 1:31 left.
Ross took a knee on three consecutive plays, and the Oilers were able to run out the clock.
"In the second half we benefited from good field position," Lo said. "We struggled offensively in the first half and had a lot of penalties that hurt us."
Marlow hit a pair of field goals in the third quarter to bring Huntington to within 10-6. His first was a 25-yard effort that came with 6:54 left in the quarter. It capped a short drive, one that began on the Fountain Valley 35 after the Oiler defense partially blocked a punt by the Barons' Derek Huynen. The Oilers reached the three, but an illegal block called against the Oilers, set the ball back at the 18.
His second kick came from 45 yards out. Marlow had just enough leg on it, as the ball just hit the front of the crossbar ,and bounced over it, with 5:14 to go in the quarter.
The two field goals allowed Marlow to atone for two first-half misses, one from 39 yards, the other, from 23 yards. Both attempts were wide right.
With the teams still in the locker room at halftime, Marlow was out on the field, practicing short-range field goal attempts.
"He made some nice kicks to get us back in the game," Lo said.
Fountain Valley grabbed a 3-0 lead on its first possession when Huynen connected on a 36-yard field goal midway through the first quarter. The Barons, who were solid and efficient on third down situations in the opening half, increased their lead to 10-0 when senior Wyatt Christensen scored on a seven-yard run with 8:10 left in the half.
That was it, offensively, for Fountain Valley. The Barons couldn't find their rhythm in the second half, and their first two possessions of the third quarter, ended in three-and-out situations.
"We did not play well offensively, at all, and penalties just killed us," Fountain Valley Coach John Shipp said. "Our defense played their butts off all game. As a whole, though, we didn't get the job done. It was a tale of two halves."
Both Huntington and Fountain Valley continue Sunset League play Oct. 12. The Oilers travel to Westminster High to meet rival Marina, and the Barons host Newport Harbor at Cap Sheue Field. Both games kick off at 7 p.m.
"We have a young team, and tonight was the first Sunset League game for a lot of our guys," Lo said. "I just like the fight in our guys."
Huntington defensive end Kyrin Randin was injured on the final play of the first half. After spending several minutes on the ground, the junior was helped to his feet and then carted away. Lo said that Randin had suffered what to appeared to be a concussion, and was taken to a local hospital.
Brethren Christian 40, Fairmont Prep 20
Edison 35, Newport Harbor 0
Los Alamitos 46, Marina 0
Ocean View (2-3) vs. Santa Ana (0-5)
(7 p.m., Santa Ana Stadium)
Ocean View and Santa Ana go up against each other in a Golden West League opener. The Seahawks are coming off a 42-0 loss to Los Amigos. The winless Saints have lost 27 consecutive league games.