Newport Harbor Coach Jeff Brinkley compared the rivalry game to the 1992 edition known as the Battle the Bay II (the second meeting between the teams that season). Back then, the Sailors and Sea Kings met in the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Division IV playoffs. Newport Harbor won, 28-21, and reached the first of seven section title games under Brinkley.
Newport Harbor, which won the Battle of the Bay for the fifth straight year, leads the series against CdM at 37-13.
Costa Mesa High senior running back Mario Smith rushed for 186 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries in the Mustangs' 34-31 nonleague win at Ocean View on Friday.
He also produced 118 yards on two kickoff returns, both of which led to touchdowns.
But he may have done more damage had he not sat out the first two offensive series for what Coach Wally Grant later said was a violation of team rules.
Grant said he scratches his head that Smith, who returned a kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown on Sept. 16 against Katella, continues to get return opportunities.
"I can't believe people are still kicking off to [Smith]," Grant said. "As long as they do, I'll keep him back there."
Corona del Mar tried to come back for the third time in as many weeks, but the Sea Kings couldn't pull it off, losing for the first time under Coach Scott Meyer.
The Sea Kings (3-1) lost by three points, and if it weren't for four missed scoring opportunities, they never would have trailed against Newport Harbor.
Two missed extra-point kicks, a missed 38-yard field-goal attempt, and being stopped on the opponent's one-yard line cost CdM.
The biggest setback was the goal-line stand right before halftime. The Sea Kings, leading, 20-14, reached Newport Harbor's six. Three runs got them to the one.
Facing a fourth-and-goal, CdM called a timeout with 14 seconds left. The Sea Kings decided to go for a touchdown, rather than kick a field goal.
They never made it into the end zone.