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Defense delivers for CdM

Sea Kings surrender 447 yards of offense to Woodbridge, but come up big when needed for crucial PCL triumph.

October 29, 2010|By Barry Faulkner, barry.faulkner@latimes.com

NEWPORT BEACH — It was a bend-but-don't-break defense that Corona del Mar High football coach Jason Hitchens was after. But in the end, he was happy to settle for snap but snap back.

The Sea Kings' defense, which allowed big plays in the second and third quarters, reasserted itself in the final period to help the hosts post a 35-24 Pacific Coast League victory Friday at Newport Harbor High.

CdM (6-1-1, 2-0-1 in league), ranked No. 4 in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division, moved past the No. 3-ranked Warriors (5-3, 2-1) in the league standings with two regular-season games left.

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The Sea Kings surrendered 447 yards of offense to the Warriors, 311 of which came from speedy senior tailback Jalen Craver, who gashed the CdM defense for touchdown sprints of 86 and 83 yards and finished with 239 yards on 24 rushing attempts.

But after Austin Koenemann kicked a 22-yard field goal to pull the visitors within 28-24 with 2:20 left in the third quarter, the Sea Kings produced four consecutive defensive stops, including a crucial fumble forced by Cole Cottrell and recovered by Aaron Vasquez, to pull away

The CdM defense, in fact, began and ended in fine fashion. The Sea Kings denied Woodbridge points on the Warriors' first four possessions, including an interception by senior linebacker David Detrick that set up the game's first score.

After Detrick stepped in front of a pass at the Warriors' 27-yard line, CdM senior receiver Brent Gray took a screen pass from senior quarterback Mitch Gardner and swerved his way into the end zone.

CdM went 85 yards on five plays on its next possession, with junior tailback Erik Fisher bolting 33 yards for the touchdown that put his team up, 14-0, with 25 seconds left in the first quarter.

Woodbridge forged a halftime deadlock with two second-quarter scores, then answered CdM's second-half-opening 80-yard touchdown march with a one-play equalizer from Craver after the ensuing kickoff.

But CdM, for which Fisher amassed 210 rushing yards on 20 attempts, answered immediately with a seven-play, 65-yard procession capped by Fisher's nine-yard scoring run.

Both CdM scoring drives in the third quarter were keyed by third-down-conversion passes from Gardner to his cousin, junior Josh Giger.

Hitchens called the third-down passes crucial, while also dispensing praise to Gardner, senior receiver-tailback Clay Reinhardt, and, finally, his defense.

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