San Clemente quarterback Jack Sears runs the ball narrowly escaping the tackle by Huntington's Johnny Perez to make a first down early in the first quarter.

San Clemente rebounds to beat Huntington Beach


SAN CLEMENTE – In response to last week’s upset loss, San Clemente did some soul-searching before its Week 1 matchup with Huntington Beach.

That time to reflect paid dividends as the Tritons scored on their first four possessions and routed the Oilers in a nonleague game, 51-21, Friday at San Clemente High.

“I told the kids last week that when you lose, it can be a loss or a lesson,” Tritons coach Jaime Ortiz said. “In tonight’s first half, the kids played great and this is what we’ve expected all year long.”

The Tritons used running back Brandon Reaves as a slot receiver and stretched the Oilers’ defense with bubble screens. That tactic later opened up the inside for Vlad Dzhabiyev and a few key passes from Jack Sears to Cole Fotheringham.

The varied attack made for a long night for Huntington Beach.

Sears was more comfortable in his second varsity start, completing 19 of 21 passes for 257 yards and three touchdowns.

“Our kids did a great job responding and played a clean game tonight,” Ortiz said. “Sears played a clean game and managed the game like we expected him to.”

San Clemente (1-1) set the tone immediately, driving 82 yards on its opening possession as Sears capped the drive with a 11-yard touchdown pass to Austin Whitsett. The bubble screens to Reaves gave San Clemente 96 yards on its first two drives.

Dzhabiyev added a rushing touchdown and receiving touchdown to make it 20-0 late in the first quarter. He added a 75-yard touchdown run on the Tritons’ first play of the second quarter.

After another stalled Huntington Beach drive, Reaves returned the ensuing punt 68 yards for a touchdown and a 34-0 lead with 6:03 remaining in the half.

Hunter Simmons, who totaled 161 rushing yards and two scores, put Huntington Beach (1-1) on the board with a 42-yard scamper with 4:21 left in the half.

While Simmons found success, the Tritons bottled up quarterback Kobee Legarde, limiting him to 43 passing yards while sacking him three times.

“We had a few players who didn’t give up and played tough,” Oilers coach Eric Lo said. “Credit San Clemente, they came out, played hard and our guys were a little shellshocked.”

The momentum was short-lived. Liam Buhl missed a 30-yard field goal to mark San Clemente’s first drive without points with 1:22 left in the half, but he returned a fumbled snap on the Oilers’ next offensive play 5 yards for a touchdown.

Fotheringham secured a 16-yard touchdown early in the third quarter. Simmons and Moses Turner added second-half touchdowns for the Oilers.

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