La Mirada's Elijah Hicks is surrounded by the San Clemente defense during Friday's nonleague game at San Clemente.

This time, San Clemente finishes strong


SAN CLEMENTE – Over the past two weeks, San Clemente had made statements through big starts. Friday night against La Mirada, it was how the Tritons finished that made the impact.

Trailing at halftime, San Clemente’s quick-strike offense gave it the lead, while its defense and special teams sealed a 42-26 nonleague victory at San Clemente High.

Quarterback Jack Sears completed 13 of 15 passes – including all five of his second-half attempts – for 224 yards and four touchdowns to three different receivers.

Tight end Cole Fotheringham caught one of those passes and threw a 77-yard touchdown pass to Liam Eldridge to help San Clemente (3-1) regain the lead in the third quarter.

“We were really clicking tonight and I think we’re going to keep progressing,” Sears said. “We have a lot of weapons. We know what we want to do and the coaches prepare us well.”

With a 27-26 lead midway through the fourth quarter, Sears hit Brandon Reaves for a 55-yard score. Three minutes later, a bad snap by La Mirada was covered by Austin Whitsett in the end zone to give the Tritons a cushion. San Clemente added a safety on the Matadores’ ensuing drive to cap its 21 consecutive points in leading to the final score.

Tackling issues resurfaced early for the Tritons, who allowed La Mirada running back Sei-j Lauago to knife through the defense on multiple occasions for 82 first-half yards (133 total) and a score.

Matadores quarterback Tristan Meyer was a nice complement early, tossing a touchdown pass to Elijah Hicks late in the first half for a 19-14 lead.

In the second half, neither factored into the scoring.

“We changed our coverage up a little bit and gave them a few different looks,” Tritons coach Jaime Ortiz said. “We knew this game was going to be won in August with our conditioning.”

Sears threw a four-yard TD pass to Fotheringham to open the scoring. La Mirada (1-3) responded with a long drive, capped by a one-yard sneak by Meyer.

The Matadores then put San Clemente in its first deficit since Week 0 when Lauago capped their next drive with a one-yard TD. Sears would later respond with a 23-yard TD pass to Eldridge, who finished with three catches for 128 yards.

San Clemente’s second-half push was aided by La Mirada penalties. The Matadores were flagged four times for 40 curcial yards in the second half.

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