HUNTINGTON BEACH — Mistakes. They hurt Huntington Beach last week, and did in the Oilers again Friday.
Huntington took an early lead on Trabuco Hills but couldn't garner much else after that, and the Oilers were saddled with a 27-17 nonleague loss at Cap Sheue Field. Mistakes, mainly in the form of penalties — and there were plenty of them, contributed heavily to the Oilers' demise.
The loss, which came during the first of five consecutive games on their home field, left Huntington, ranked No. 10 in the CIF Southern Section Southwest Division poll, at 2-2 overall.
They finish up nonleague play next week at home against Downey.
"Penalties are still killing us," Huntington Coach Eric Lo said. "It's very frustrating.
"We weren't ready to play tonight, and that's my fault. Trabuco's a good team, but we made them look good, too."
There were several bright spots for Huntington in last week's 49-31 loss at JSerra, but also some key mistakes. Such was the case again against a Trabuco Hills team which returned to Cap Sheue Field for the second straight week.
The Mustangs, the No. 9 team in the Pac-5 Division, last week defeated Fountain Valley, 24-17. With Friday's win over Huntington, they completed a 3-0 record in nonleague play against teams from the Sunset League.
Trabuco (4-0) also defeated Newport Harbor, 35-20, on Sept. 6.
Huntington defense had a big first quarter. The Oilers partially blocked a punt, blocked a field-goal attempt, and registered a couple of sacks. Yet, after one quarter of play, the score was tied 7-7.
The blocked punt came at the end of the first possession of the game. Strong safety Jacob Gray broke through to get a hand on Blake Cuzzupoli's punt, and the ball wobbled out of bounds at the Trabuco 35 yard line. The Oilers needed only four plays to score, the honors going to sophomore running back Hunter Simmons on a three-yard run.
It was 7-0 less than three minutes into the game.
"We got off to a great start," Lo said. "We just didn't do anything, really, after that."
Trabuco's second possession also ended in a block. Senior linebacker Matthew Tavakoli burst through the line to smother Cuzzupoli's 30-yard field goal attempt with 7:59 left in the first quarter.
For its fast start, Huntington wouldn't score again until the final play of the first half. In between, Trabuco reeled off 20 unanswered points to open up a 20-7 lead late in the half.
The run started on a six-yard scoring pass from quarterback Tommy Kelley to receiver Jacob Breeland that tied the score with 50 seconds left in the first quarter. What turned out to be a 59-yard scoring drive seemed dead early on. On the third play of the drive, junior linemen Hojun Lee and Shayne Moye teamed to take down Kelley for an 11-yard loss. In punt formation from the Trabuco 44, Bret Bohan instead threw a short pass to receiver Daniel Ahrenholtz. The fake punt turned into a 24-yard gain.
After Trabuco's score, it was then that a bizarre series for the Oilers, turned what looked like a possible go-ahead scoring drive, into one that nearly went in the complete opposite direction.
Huntington had moved from its own 26 down to the Trabuco 14 where it faced first down. But a series of penalties, ranging from a chop block call, to a personal foul, a couple of procedure penalties, and a holding call, took the ball all the way back to the Huntington 36. Suddenly, the Oilers faced a third-and-59 situation.
They were forced to punt and Trabuco's Noah Thompson's 41-yard return of the kick set up the Mustangs at the Huntington 34. On the next play, Kelley threaded a perfect pass down the middle of the field which receiver Connor O'Malley ran under and caught in stride just inside the goal line.
Trabuco went ahead to stay, 14-7, with 8:03 to go until halftime.
Huntington got into Trabuco territory on its ensuing possession on a 23-yard run by Simmons that put the ball at 45. That yardage was wiped away on a personal foul call against the Oilers that took the ball back to the Huntington 40.
That drive, too, fizzled, but not until the Oilers reached the Trabuco 35 where they punted the ball back to the Mustangs.
The teams traded interceptions late in the half. The first went to Huntington strong safety Drew Becker who picked off Kelley at the Huntington 15, after the Mustangs had reached the 23. Five plays later, a pass by Huntington quarterback Kai Ross was deflected near the line of scrimmage and intercepted by defensive back Matt Laney at the Huntington 40. Laney returned the ball down to the 11 where he was forced out of bounds by Oilers receiver Maurice Barber.
Running back Matt Wood took a direct snap from center on third down, and scored on a three-yard run to make it 20-7 with 1:13 left in the half.
It was enough time for Huntington to squeeze in one last score before intermission.
A 24-yard run by Simmons, followed by a 29-yard pass play between Ross and senior receiver Tucker deCamp, put the ball at the Trabuco 25 with three seconds left. Junior kicker Maliek Miller split the uprights from 45 yards out on the final play of the half to draw the Oilers to within 20-10.
Trabuco took a 27-10 lead when Kelley found Breeland over the top for an 80-yard touchdown pass three minutes into the second half. The big play came on third-and-12.
Huntington got to within 27-17 with 3:22 remaining on a 20-yard scoring pass from Ross to Barber. An onside kick was recovered by Wood at the Trabuco 49, and the Mustangs ran out the clock.
The Oilers complete their nonleague schedule next Friday against Downey. They are idle the following week and open Sunset League play Oct. 11 against defending league champion Edison.
"We need to make plays in order to be successful," Lo said. "We need to fix some things, or it's going to be a long season."
Huntington Beach (2-2)
Friday: vs. Downey, 7 p.m.
Oct. 11: vs. *Edison, 7 p.m.
Oct. 18: at *Fountain Valley, 7 p.m.
Oct. 25: vs. *Marina, 7 p.m.
Nov. 1: at *Los Alamitos (Veterans Stadium), 7 p.m.
Nov. 8: vs. *Newport Harbor, 7 p.m.
(*denotes Sunset League game)