San Clemente rides wave of momentum, ousts Chino Hills


SAN CLEMENTE – In the playoffs, momentum can be either lifesaving or devastating.

In a first-round CIF-SS Division 2 playoff game, two moments before and after halftime swung momentum in San Clemente’s favor, leading to a 36-13 win over Chino Hills on Friday at San Clemente High.

San Clemente will face No. 1 seed Heritage of Menifee on the road next Friday.

With the score tied late in the first half, the Tritons turned an interception by Jack Shippy into a Brandon Reaves’ touchdown for a 14-7 lead with 1:18 left in the half.

Hoping to regain momentum, Chino Hills (6-5) tried an onside kick to open the second half, but the ball bounced off the hands of two Huskies players before winding up in San Clemente’s possession.

Again, the Tritons (8-3) scored on Reaves’ third touchdown, a 6-yard run to make it 21-7.

“We talked at halftime that we were getting the ball back, let’s go down, score and get the momentum on our side,” Tritons coach Jaime Ortiz said. “We knew if we could make it 21-7, things would be in our favor.”

The Huskies countered with running back Walter Carl III, who displayed patience and vision behind a big offensive line for 150 yards on 26 carries.

His 10-yard TD run to start the second quarter tied the game at 7-7.

Chino Hills made it a one-score game with a 2-yard Austin Zavala TD run, but missed the extra point.

“The exploitation was going to come in the running game,” Huskies coach Chris Stevens said. “We thought we could run on them, we just didn’t do it enough to put ourselves in deep positions.”

San Clemente responded with a 7-play, 65-yard drive capped by a Jack Sears shovel pass to Austin Whitsett, who took it 22 yards down the sideline for a touchdown.

Back-to-back sacks by San Clemente’s Jesse Mikulec and Ryan Russell led to a turnover on downs on Chino Hills’ next possession. Four plays later, Sears hit Keith Jones for an 11-yard TD to cap the scoring.

Shippy, who had three interceptions, sealed the game for the Tritons by picking off Zavala on the second play of the ensuing Huskies possession.

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