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Sailors keep it going

High School Football

Newport Harbor scores Sunset League win over Marina to move closer to a CIF playoff berth.

November 03, 2011|By Matt Szabo
(Kevin Chang / Daily…)

WESTMINSTER — The game was a battle for three quarters.

Points were at a premium. Yards were at a premium. The Newport Harbor High football team was locked in a defensive struggle with Marina on Thursday night, in danger of falling out of contention for a Sunset League title.

The Sailors got their act together just in time.

Senior quarterback Cole Blower hit tight end Steve Michaelsen for a key fourth-down touchdown pass and Newport Harbor pulled away, 24-7, at Westminster High, keeping the league title hopes alive but also improving its CIF Southern Section Pac-5 Division playoff chances.

Newport Harbor (5-4, 3-1 in league) can clinch a playoff berth if Edison beats Fountain Valley on Friday and Huntington Beach beats Los Alamitos.

The Sailors also put themselves in a position to win at least of a share of the league title if they can beat Edison next week, at home in the league finale on Nov. 10.

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It wasn't easy against Marina (1-7-1, 0-4), which has not won a league game since 2004. The Sailors led just 10-7 entering the fourth quarter.

"They did a great job preparing their kids," Newport Harbor Coach Jeff Brinkley said. "They've struggled, obviously, this year, and George [Pascoe] and his staff did a great job getting them ready. We're coming off a big win last week [against Los Alamitos]. As much as you tell them as the coach and as an adult, sometimes young people don't get it when you're telling them these guys are going to come and play hard. They hear it from everybody else how it's going to be a walk in the park. Well, it certainly wasn't."

The fourth-down play was huge. Brinkley said he decided to go for it early in the fourth quarter, on fourth-and-two from the Marina 18-yard line, because a field goal would have kept it a one-possession game.

After a timeout, Blower rolled to his right and found Michaelsen over the middle. Michaelsen found the end zone, pushing the Sailors' lead to 17-7.

"We call that play a lot in practice, so I wasn't surprised he called that play," Michaelsen said of his only catch of the night. "It's always great to get a touchdown, especially when the game is so close like that. That's a hard pass, because he's running away and I'm coming across. He had to throw it across his body, [but] he always gets the ball to the receivers."

Marina fumbled the ball near midfield on its next possession, and Sailors sophomore lineman Ramsey Hufford recovered. That set up an eight-play scoring drive.

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