By Jim Tortolano
In a game that featured more twists and turns than an Alpine highway, it was the Los Alamitos Griffins who found the fast lane and defeated Edison High 24-16 Thursday night in a contest that probably decided the 2017 Sunset League football title.
The come-from-behind win at Cap Sheue Field on the Huntington Beach High campus puts the Griffins at 5-4 overall, but 3-0 in league play, while the Chargers dropped to 6-3 and 2-1. Both have two league contests to play.
It was really two different games, the first one dominated by special team plays – and misplays – which saw Edison take a 16-3 lead into halftime, and a second in which the Los Al passing attack finally took wing and scored three unanswered touchdowns.
Neither quarterback had a statistically standout night, but Grant Caraway got hot late for the visitors, while Griffin O’Connor was uncharacteristically chilly. Caraway completed 10 of 27 passes for 53 yards and one score, while O’Connor was 13 of 43 for 172 yards and two touchdowns.
On the Griffs’ first possession, they faced a fourth and 10 from their 16-yard lane. Their punt was blocked by Mateo Gallego and Edison recovered at the Los Al 8-yard-line. Two plays later O’Connor found David Atencio for a touchdown and a 6-0 lead when the extra point missed.
In the second quarter, under a heavy rush, O’Connor threw a pass that was intercepted by Richard Yukihiro. The 250-lb. tackle rumbled to the Edison 14. Four plays later, Nicholas Valenzuela hit a 30-yard field goal to cut the lead to 6-3 at 8:45.
Another defensive play led to the next score of the game. A blocked Los Al punt gave Edison the ball at the Griffin 26, and after a holding penalty moved the ball to the 16, O’Connor again hooked up with Atencio at the 4:35 mark. That gave Edison a 13-3 edge.
On their next to possession, the visitors handed the host team a gift, fumbling the ball away on their own 26. Edison got a 37-yard field goal from Jack Morrell for a 16-3 advantage at the 2:23 point of the quarter.
That would be the high-water mark for the Chargers. Los Al charged back with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Caraway to Isaiah Palmer at 8:54 of the third quarter to cut the lead to 16-10, then went ahead at 4:02 on a 17-yard scoring run by Nathan Hartman, and the PAT that followed.
Trailing 17-16 going into the final quarter, the Chargers dug themselves in deeper as Haven Rosas picked off an O’Connor pass and returned it for a touchdown that made the score 24-16 at 8:23.
Edison then launched a long drive that covered 14 plays and chewed up almost five minutes. On a fourth-and-6 from the 15-yard line, O’Connor again found Atencio, but the receiver was hit as the ball came into his hands and the pigskin popped out, forcing the Chargers to turn the ball over on downs at 3:58.
The Chargers would get one more crack at a rally when Los Al booted a short punt and EHS had the ball at the Griff 37-yard line with 1:32 to play.
But all the Bolts could do was throw three incomplete passes and see O’Connor sacked for a 5-yard loss on the fourth down. A couple of kneel-downs and Los Alamitos was ready to celebrate a win in the Sunset game of the year.
In other games on Thursday:
- Orange 16, Segerstrom 15: After a close loss to Westminster last week, the Panthers bounced back into the Golden West League title chase with the win. OHS is now 7-1 overall and 2-1 in league. Segerstrom fell to 6-2 and 2-1. Both trail Santa Ana (7-1, 3-0), which defeated Loara 54-6. Jason Wilkinson scored fhe touchdown that tied the game with 26-seconds to go, and Nick Guzman kicked the deciding extra point for Orange.
- Pacifica 67, Western 14: The Mariners rolled up a 47-14 halftime lead and coasted to the Empire League win. PHS is now 7-1 overall and 2-1 in the EL.
- Los Amigos 21, Bolsa Grande 14: In a battle of two teams with 1-6 and 0-2 marks going into the game, the Lobos prevailed at the Bolsa Stadium.
Categories: High school sports