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Newport Harbor defense sparks win over Pacifica
COSTA MESA – Newport Harbor’s defense provided plenty of opportunities in the second half Thursday for the Sailors’ offense to clean up its act.
Running back Cole Kinder and quarterback Sam Barela made the most of the chances.
Kinder turned a fumble recovery into a touchdown run and Barela tossed a touchdown to Levi Hooper after an interception to help the Sailors storm past Pacifica, 47-26, for a opening victory at Orange Coast College.
Newport Harbor’s defense forced two of its six turnovers in the second half, leading to 12 points that helped break open the game.
The score was tied, 14-14, at halftime.
The Sailors’ offense committed three turnovers in the first half but none in the second half against Pacifica (0-2).
“Our defense played well all night,” said Coach Jeff Brinkley, 63, who opened his 31st season in charge of the Sailors. “We turned the ball over a couple times early in the game. … In the second half, our offense got in gear. We started knocking them off the ball and got Kinder loose.”
Kinder returned the second-half kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown to break the 14-14 tie.
Pacifica responded with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Ben Jefferson to Nate Deaton, but the Sailors soon took control behind their defense.
A sack on fourth down by Alex Michaelsen provided the spark. Barela, a sophomore in his first start, overcame two interceptions in the first half to toss a 15-yard touchdown to tight end Will Harvey to help Newport Harbor open a 28-20 lead with 3:13 left in the third.
Kinder had 152 yards on 21 carries and scored four TDs. Gage Roberson recovered two fumbles.
Early in the third, an interception by sophomore safety Dayne Chalmers led to a 24-yard TD pass from Barela to Hooper and a 40-20 lead.
The score was tied, 14-14, after a wild first half featuring a combined seven turnovers.
The Sailors forced four turnovers, leading to two touchdowns while Pacifica forced three, leading to a pair of scores.
Newport Harbor struck first early in the first quarter. A hustling Hooper recovered a muffed punt by Pacifica in the end zone for a touchdown with 8:08 left in the opening period.
On the ensuing possession, Newport Harbor cornerback Roger Sanborn recovered a fumble at the Pacifica 22, leading to a 5-yard TD run by Kinder.
Sophomore cornerback Hagen Foreman sparked Pacifica late in the first quarter. He intercepted his first pass at his 31 and returned the ball to the Sailors 20, setting up a 20-yard TD run by scrambling Jefferson with 1:19 remaining in the first.
Foreman wasn’t done. Seconds into the ensuing possession, he returned his second interception – on a similar pass as the first – 23 yards for the score as Pacifica tied the score, 14-14.
The teams combined for five turnovers in the first quarter.
Turnovers hurt Pacifica in its season-opening loss against Trabuco Hills in triple-overtime. The Mustangs forced three with the Mariners driving for points in a 37-34 victory.
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