IRVINE — About 20 minutes before game time Friday night, the University High football announcer offered a quick preview of the Trojans' Pacific Coast League game against visiting Corona del Mar.
"From what I hear, we're probably going to have a running clock in the second half," the announcer said out loud.
This never became the case. University, a big underdog, battled CdM gamely for much of the game.
It wasn't enough to stop the Sea Kings.
Junior Brett Greenlee scored a big special teams touchdown right before halftime and CdM won, 35-3, spoiling the Trojans' homecoming night.
CdM (8-0, 3-0 in league), the top-ranked, two-time defending champion of the CIF Southern Section Southern Division, extended its program-record winning streak to 18 games. The Sea Kings also won their eighth straight league game, staying a game up in league on both Woodbridge and Irvine. The Warriors and Vaqueros are both 2-1 in league after each team won Friday night, but CdM has already beaten both teams.
But the Sea Kings' lead against Uni could have been cut to just eight points right before halftime. The Trojans trailed 14-3, but seemed to have momentum after successfully executing a fake punt moments earlier.
This time, sophomore kicker Rio Gibson lined up for a 47-yard field goal, but Greenlee had other ideas. He blocked the attempt, scooped up the ball around midfield and was gone, giving CdM a 21-7 lead just seven seconds before intermission.
It was Greenlee's third blocked field goal of his career, and second that he's returned for a touchdown.
"It was just getting off the ball, anticipating the snap," Greenlee said. "Without a doubt [it gave us momentum]. Our offense came out strong and played really well, and we just had to keep it rolling."
Said CdM Coach Scott Meyer: "That was big. He's kind of got a knack for that. It was 14-3, and we had moved the ball pretty well but only gotten 14 points out of it. That extra touchdown did give us a little bit of momentum. It was a big sigh of relief to open it up a little bit right before half, and know that we were going to get the ball to start the second [half]."
University (2-6, 0-3) set up its only points of the game late in the first quarter. The Trojans got a 54-yard completion from junior quarterback Wes Jordan to senior tight end to Anthony Montoya, who broke a tackle near midfield and rumbled to the CdM 20-yard line. Four plays later, Gibson booted a 32-yard field goal.
CdM missed a 27-yard field goal later in the half, and was fortunate when a muffed punt return was snatched up by junior Max Chozen.
"It's good for us," Meyer said of being tested in league. "[University] Coach [Mark] Cunningham does a great job. It's their homecoming, and their guys are fired up. They always plays smart and hard and do things well. In our league, there's never really an easy game. I don't care what anyone's record is. You're always going to get a great game."
University had trouble moving the ball, however. The completion to Montoya was Jordan's only one in nine first-half attempts, though he was victimized by several drops by his receivers.
CdM senior quarterback Luke Napolitano did most of his damage in the first half, when he threw for 129 of his 154 passing yards. He also ran for a 35-yard touchdown to cap the Sea Kings' first drive, and junior Cole Martin ran in a 16-yard touchdown on the second drive, breaking several tackles in the process.
Napolitano threw his lone touchdown pass in the third quarter, though, hooking up with junior Cole Collins on a 16-yard strike.
CdM backup quarterback Peter Bush completed the scoring, finding the end zone on a one-yard run with 3:30 left in the game to cap a 90-yard drive.
In league, the Sea Kings have given up just 10 points in three games.
"I mean, our coaching staff is amazing," said Greenlee, a cornerback. "The amount of time we put in is insane. We just prepare, prepare and prepare."
Corona del Mar 35, University 3
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Corona del Mar 14 – 7 – 7 – 7 — 35
University 0 – 3 – 0 – 0 — 3
CdM – Napolitano 35 run (Hunter kick), 9:04.
CdM – Martin 16 run (Hunter kick), 2:18.
Uni – Gibson 32 FG, 11:03.
CdM – Greenlee 53 blocked FG return, 0:07.
CdM – Collins 18 pass from Napolitano (Hunter kick), 5:49.
CdM – Bush 1 run (Hunter kick), 3:30.
CdM – Bush, 7-81, 1 TD; Martin, 12-62, 1 TD.
Uni – Alibrando, 11-31.
CdM – Napolitano, 17-27-2, 154, 1 TD.
Uni – Jordan, 3-15-0, 51.
CdM – Collins, 6-73, 1 TD.
Uni – Montoya, 2-49.