SAN CLEMENTE — While its typically potent passing attack produced just one completion in the final three quarters, the Newport Harbor High football team relied on its more traditional formula of ground control Friday night.
And the Sailors' defense caught nearly as many passes as their receivers, returning two for touchdowns to earn a 34-13 nonleague victory at San Clemente High.
Senior cornerback Quest Truxton returned his two interceptions 60 and 45 yards for scores, while also catching four passes for 66 yards, including the game's first touchdown.
Truxton's 24-yard hookup with junior quarterback Cole Norris on a corner route capped a 12-play, 68-yard procession on the Sailors' first possession.
Newport Harbor (2-2), ranked No. 10 in the CIF Southern Section Southwest Division, marched 95 yards on 10 plays on its second possession, scoring as time expired in the first quarter on a three-yard run by Chance Siemonsma to take a 14-0 lead.
San Clemente (2-3), playing without starting quarterback Sam Darnold for the second straight week, displayed a balanced attack, led by sophomore quarterback Cole Fotheringham and sophomore running back Vlad Dzhabiyev.
But Truxton made Fotheringham, a converted receiver, pay for his inexperience, returning his first interception 60 yards to put the visitors up, 21-0, after the third of four conversion kicks by Michael Schultz, who also booted field goals of 24 and 20 yards.
With Truxton's quick strike and the Tritons' somewhat effective offense moving the chains and scoring late in the half to cut the deficit to 21-7, Newport's lone offensive snap in the second quarter was a kneel-down to burn the final 17 seconds.
The Sailors, however, used eight minutes and 24 seconds of the scoreless third quarter, with Siemonsma carrying 15 times for 93 of his 137 rushing yards on the night.
With Riley Gaddis (four carries for 29 yards) sidelined by a leg injury late in the first half, senior Grant Hall stepped in to share the second-half load with Siemonsma. Hall carried six times for 47 yards to help the Tars produce 216 rushing yards on 37 attempts.
Norris, who threw for 652 yards and six touchdowns his first three games this season, completed seven of 18 for 78 yards and the aforementioned touchdown.
Senior Cory Stowell, the Sailors' other cornerback, intercepted two passes to help the Sailors continually frustrate a San Clemente offense that moved the ball with success.
Fotheringham completed 17 of 32 attempts for 151 of the Tritons' 165 passing yards. He threw touchdown passes of one and 13 yards to Cole Harlow and Jake Russell, respectively, to give San Clemente rooters hope.
After Russell's touchdown pulled the hosts within 24-13 with 8:49 left in the game, the Tritons' defense forced a three-and-out and San Clemente took over at its own 44-yard line.
But two plays later, Stowell returned his first pick 30 yards to set up Schultz's second field goal.
Truxton's second interception return for a touchdown iced the verdict with 1:46 left.
Newport Harbor 34, San Clemente 13
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Newport – 14 – 7 – 0 –13 – 34
San Clem - 0 – 7 – 0 – 6 – 13
NH – Truxton 24 pass from Norris (Schultz kick), 5:26.
NH – Siemonsma 3 run (Schultz kick), 0:00.
NH – Truxton 60 interception return (Schultz kick), 5:44.
SC – Harlow 1 pass from Fotheringham (Gonzalez kick), 0:17.
NH – Schultz 24FG, 11:42.
SC – Russell 13 pass from Fotheringham (kick blocked), 8:49.
NH – Schultz 20 FG, 2:27.
NH – Truxton 45 interception return (Schultz kick), 1:46.
NH – Siemonsma, 23-137, 1 TD.
SC – Dzhabiyev, 14-48.
NH – Norris, 7-18-0, 78, 1 TD.
SC – Fotheringham, 17-34-4, 151, 2 TDs.
NH – Truxton, 4-66, 1 TD.
SC – Wright, .6-60.