Corona del Mar advances with wild 49-48 win


ONTARIO – After falling in the second round of the CIF-SS playoffs each of the last two years, Corona del Mar refused to let history repeat itself.

Using two first-half kickoff returns for touchdowns from Dylan Tucker, 198 yards rushing from J.T Murphy and a timely onside kick recovery, the Sea Kings knocked off host Colony of Ontario, 49-48, to advance to the semifinals for the first time since 2013.

“It’s in the back of everyone in this program’s mind,” said Corona del Mar coach Dan O’Shea. “We just had to say in this together and pull through.”

The Sea Kings (11-1) will host Etiwanda in the semifinals Friday at Estancia High.

After a crazy first half that included the kickoff returns and an 80-yard Colony touchdown pass, Corona del Mar held a 35-20 lead

Chase Garbers failed to throw for 100 yards in the first half, though the Cal commit still had the offense humming. He rushed for 62 yards in the first half and took advantage of short fields, guiding the offense to scores on every first-half drive.

Following a first possession score by Corona del Mar, Colony scored 20 unanswered points in just over five minutes. Colony matched the Sea Kings’ score, then recovered a sequined kickoff and scored on a Joseph Tesimale 24 yards scramble. Then, the Titans got their first stop of the contest, knocking down a Garbers pass on fourth down and responded with a Nathan Tilford touchdown reception to cut the Sea Kings’ lead to 42-20.

Corona del Mar responded with a touchdown drive of its own, leaning heavily on Murphy, who capped the drive with a 17-yard score, pushing the lead back to two scores.

Colony was bailed out of a failed fourth-down conversion with a pass interference that moved the Titans into the red zone, but, with the help of a holding penalty, forced another fourth-down attempt and an incompletion. The Sea Kings’ next drive stalled and Garbers’ fourth-down conversion attempt fell incomplete, putting Colony on its own 20 with 41/2 minutes to work with.

The Titans drove the ball down the field, eating 21/2 minutes before Joseph Tesimale hooked up with Nathan Tilford. A two-point conversion provided the final margin.

The comeback attempt fell short after Corona del Mar recovered the onside kick and converted a third down to drain the clock.

Tilford, who is committed to Arizona, led the Titans in rushing and receiving with 135 yards rushing and 184 yards receiving. Tesimale finished with 401 yards passing.

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