Newport Harbor's Cole Kinder is tackled by Huntington Beach's Arick Mclawyer during a Sunset League game at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa on Thursday, October 20, 2016. (Photo by Matt Masin, Orange County Register, SCNG)

Newport Harbor wins, improves playoff hopes


COSTA MESA – Cole Kinder rushed for 159 yards and a touchdown and Dayne Chalmers caught two touchdown passes for Newport Harbor in a 34-8 Sunset League win over Huntington Beach on Thursday at Orange Coast College.

It was a critical game for the playoff chances of both teams. Newport Harbor, ranked No. 25 in the county, improves to 2-1 in league play with league games remaining against Marina and Los Alamitos.

No. 24 Huntington Beach also is 2-1 in league with league games left against Edison and Los Alamitos.

The standings: Edison, which plays Marina Friday, is 2-0 in league; Newport Harbor and Huntington Beach, tied at 2-1; Los Alamitos is 1-1; and Marina and Fountain Valley are 0-2.

The top three finishers in the six-team Sunset League receive guaranteed entry into the CIF-Southern Section playoffs that begin Nov. 11. The league’s No. 4 team could be selected far an at-large berth if it has the required .500-or-better overall record.

Kinder was a busy back again. He had 35 carries, 21 in the first half. Kinder, a 6-foot-1, 207-pound senior, has 1,358 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns this season in which he has averaged 26 carries a game.

“He’s a horse,” said Newport Harbor coach Jeff Brinkley, in his 31st season coaching the Sailors. “With the inexperienced quarterbacks we have, we’ve tried to build our offense toward what we do well.”

Newport Harbor rotated sophomore Sam Barela and junior Spencer Hook at quarterback and often had six linemen and two tight ends on the offensive line. Hook threw two touchdown passes, both to Chalmers, on Thursday. Barela threw a touchdown pass to Levi Hooper.

Huntington Beach took an 8-0 lead in the first quarter when Derek Thomas scored on a 6-yard run and Arick McLawyer added a 2-point conversion run. That lead lasted until the first play of the second quarter when Hook connected with Chalmers on an 8-yard touchdown pass to trim the Oilers’ lead to 8-7.

The Sailors took the lead for good with 3:52 to go in the second quarter on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Barela to Hooper to make it 14-8. Newport Harbor extended the lead to 21-8 on an 8-yard TD pass from Hook to Chalmers.

Chalmers’ second touchdown pass, this one covering 29 yards, in the third quarter pushed the Sailors’ lead to 27-8. Backup running back Chris Bailey, a senior, scored on a 2-yard run with 59 seconds remaining in the game to make it 34-8 and complete the scoring.

Huntington Beach missed the playoffs the past two seasons. The most recent the time Oilers made the playoffs, 2013, was a great time. They won the CIF-Southern Section Southwest Division championship. They beat Newport Harbor in the division championship game at Angel Stadium.

Newport Harbor plays Marina next Friday in a league game at Estancia High. Newport Harbor is using Estancia and Orange Coast College for home games while its on-campus stadium is being renovated.

Huntington Beach plays host to Los Alamitos in a league game next Thursday.

Huntington Beach’s other losses were to San Clemente, which is No. 8 in the Orange County top 25, No. 11 San Juan Hills and No. 16 Tesoro in nonleague games. The Oilers’ wins were over West Adams Prep of Los Angeles and Long Beach Wilson in nonleague games. They beat Fountain Valley at Marina in Sunset League games.

Newport Beach’s losses were to O.C. No. 10 Corona del Mar, Los Altos of Hacienda Heights, and Mira Costa of Manhattan Beach in nonleague, and to Edison in a Sunset League game. The Sailors beat Fountain Valley in a league game and in nonleague games defeated Pacifica and El Rancho of Pico Rivera.

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