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Sailors still rule rivalry

Battle of the Bay

Newport Harbor rallies with big plays late in fourth quarter to edge Corona del Mar in 50th edition of rivalry game.

September 23, 2011|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza
(Kevin Chang / Daily…)

COSTA MESA — Coach Jeff Brinkley turned 59 years old on Wednesday. His Newport Harbor High football team gave him his birthday gift a couple of days late.

The wait was worth it to Brinkley. The present turned out to be a classic one Friday night, a victory in the 50th Battle of the Bay.

Make that the Sailors' first win of the season.

Newport Harbor came from behind to defeat host Corona del Mar, 29-26, in front of a packed house at Orange Coast College. Brinkley was all smiles, hugging and shaking hands with everyone in sight.

"We needed this one," said Brinkley, whose team bounced back after starting the season 0-2 for the first time in 29 years.

Getting the first victory wasn't easy, but the Sailors pulled it off, knocking off Back Bay rival CdM for the fifth straight year. This one can be considered an upset, with CdM going into the game 3-0 and ranked No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division.


Newport Harbor running back Titus Hasson broke out in a big way. While Hasson carried the Sailors' offense, rushing 27 times for a career-high 191 yards and two touchdowns, quarterback Cole Blower, who threw for 143 yards and two touchdowns on 12-of-16 passing, delivered when it mattered most.

Blower went four-of-four passing on the Sailors' game-winning drive. The drive started midway through the fourth quarter on Newport Harbor's own 12, and it ended with the senior finding the biggest target on the field, tight end Steve Michaelsen.

With the Sea Kings worried about the shifty Hasson, who three plays earlier broke off a 41-yard run down CdM's sideline, Brinkley called a play-action pass on third-and-goal on the five-yard line. Blower faked the handoff to the right, and the defense bit. All alone in the corner of the end zone was the 6-foot-5 Michaelsen, who hauled in Blower's second touchdown pass of the game.

Michaelsen dropped a pass earlier. He wasn't letting go of this one. His first career touchdown gave the Sailors a 27-26 lead with 2:48 left to play.

Instead of attempting the extra-point kick to go up by two points, the Sailors wanted a three-point lead. They went for a two-point conversion and Blower hit Kory Cablay on an out pattern to the left. The Sailors' side erupted.

CdM had its chances. The Sea Kings had two missed extra-point kicks and a missed 38-yard field-goal attempt.

Also, Newport Harbor's defense stepped up just before halftime. The Sailors stuffed CdM on fourth-and-goal from the Newport Harbor one-yard line right before halftime.

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