By Brian Lichterman | Sports Editor
The visiting Corona del Mar Sea Kings were rocked by the Newport Harbor Sailors 35-13 in the 47th “battle of the bay” between the cross-town rival football squads.
Both teams came into the game undefeated, but Harbor’s relentless running attack and stellar defense propelled them to 3-0 on the season, and 34-13 all-time against the Sea Kings. The Sea Kings’ record now stands at 3-1 on the season.
With sailor hats filling Newport Harbor’s side of the field and white t-shirts littering the other side to combat Harbor’s “blue-out,” the game got under way.
Right away CdM’s toughness would be tested as they faced a fourth and inches on their own 30-yard line on their first offensive series. A deceptive snap count by CdM quarterback Mitch Gardner drew the defense offside, for the first down.
Harbor’s defense then held strong, though, and forced CdM to punt.
Newport couldn’t get things started right away and also had to punt, but pinned CdM on their own 11-yard line. Harbor’s defense put on the pressure as defensive end Mutuvai Asi sacked the quarterback and forced a fumble, but CdM recovered on their own 1-yard line. A safety was barely averted, and the Sea Kings were able to punt it out of their own end zone on fourth down.
Harbor then had terrific field position on CdM’s 24-yard line, and struck quickly on second down when Buzzy Yokoyama ran up the right side nearly untouched for a 22-yard score. Christian Ochoa added the extra point and the Sailors were up 7-0 with 3:58 to play in the quarter.
After Harbor kicked off, the Sea Kings were set on their own 24-yard line and looking to get on the scoreboard when disaster struck. CdM fumbled on the first play from scrimmage and the Sailors recovered on the Sea Kings’ 29-yard line.
Harbor’s first play after regaining position was a beautifully thrown play-action pass from quarterback Austin Rios to one of his favorite targets on the night, Parker Norton, for another touchdown – Harbor’s second score in 16 seconds.
Up 14-0, the Sailors kicked off and looked like they were in control for the night.
After getting the ball back, the Sea Kings moved up the field from their own 22 with a good mix of runs and pass plays, leaning heavily on Gardner to lead the way. After converting another tough fourth down, Gardner began the second quarter by hitting his favorite receiver over the middle for a 22-yard score that got CdM on the board, but still down 14-7.
Up to this point, it seemed like Newport was getting their yards in chunks as CdM was getting them in inches. Once Harbor got the ball back, they continued to stick with a heavy dose of running to keep the CdM defense honest, and passed when it opened up. Just when the Sea Kings thought they were getting back into the game, Yokoyama busted out another huge play as he went 68 yards up the right side to put the Sailors up 21-7.
It seemed like it couldn’t get any worse for the Sea Kings, but on their next possession it did. Gardner fumbled a quarterback keeper on an option play and Harbor recovered on their own 41.
However, CdM would get the ball back after a long drive by the Sailors ended with Rios throwing an interception. Starting near midfield, CdM was able to drive, but they were stopped at the Newport 12-yard line, so they opted to kick the field goal and go into halftime down 21-10.
After another impressive drive by the Sailors on the opening possession of the second half that ended in yet another touchdown by Yokoyama – an 11-yard run – the pace of the game slowed considerably and there was no more scoring in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the Sea Kings managed to put together a nice drive and set up another chip shot field goal which made the score 28-13.
Harbor’s running game was just too much though as – you guessed it – Yokoyama broke tackle after tackle running behind the right side of his line to bust out for 64-yard dash and yet another touchdown.
After CdM failed to get the ball down the field and had to punt, Harbor ran out the clock and the home crowd ran onto the field to celebrate their 35-13 win over the rival Sea Kings.