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Newport Harbor gets to the top through the air
NEWPORT BEACH – As an assistant coach texted updates to Newport Harbor coach Jeff Brinkley on Thursday night, informing him of Los Alamitos' upset of Edison, Brinkley put the final touches on his game plan for Fountain Valley.
“We thought we'd be able to run the ball on them,” Brinkley said.
Two quarters and a 10-point deficit later, Brinkley had a new game plan: “I told Cole (Norris) we're going to have to wing it.”
Music to a quarterback's ears became beauty to the eyes of the Sailors, who rallied for a 42-25 victory Friday night at Newport Harbor High behind a huge half from Norris and his receivers.
No. 13 Newport Harbor (4-4, 2-1) moved into a four-way tie for first place in the Sunset League, along with No. 12 Fountain Valley (6-2), Edison and Los Alamitos. The Barons still have to play Edison and Los Alamitos. The Sailors are sitting comfortably, as they close out the regular season against fifth-place Huntington Beach and last-place Marina.
“We've got to win out,” Brinkley said. “We're happy with where we're at. It's not often you get a second chance.”
Brinkley might as well have been talking about his initial run-heavy game plan. The Sailors attempted just eight passes and punted on four of their five possessions in the first half. After forcing a Fountain Valley punt to begin the third quarter, Norris passed on all 11 plays of the Sailors' opening drive of the second half, which culminated in a 21-yard touchdown pass to Cory Stowell.
“You got to do it sometimes,” Brinkley said. “Cole can spin it and he's getting smarter all the time. It's two years in and he's figuring the whole thing out.”
Newport Harbor took over on downs shortly after, halting Fountain Valley's fourth-down run off a fake punt. Norris connected with Quest Truxton a play later for 39 yards and Riley Gaddis scored on the following play, giving the Sailors a 21-17 lead.
Gaddis scored a few minutes later to give Newport Harbor a 28-17 lead.
His third touchdown, a 14-yarder late in the fourth quarter, gave the Sailors a 42-25 lead.
“We weren't running it worth a darn in the first half,” Brinkley said. “You got to give them credit. Their coach has those kids believing and they did a great job stopping us. I think some of the body blows maybe helped us later in the game.”
Norris finished 17 for 27 for 259 yards and three touchdowns. Truxton had seven receptions for 163 yards and a touchdown.
Fountain Valley quarterback Scott Schultz went 16 for 26 for 236 yards and three touchdowns with an interception.
The Barons have not defeated Newport Harbor since 2009.
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