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, MICHAEL KITADA, CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
La Mirada's Chad Wilson, right, is upended by San Clemente's Jack Sears, left, is called for a low block during a punt return that resulted in a touchdown.

San Clemente struggles in lopsided loss to La Mirada

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

LA MIRADA – It was a long ride followed by a long Friday night for San Clemente, which was overpowered by La Mirada, 43-14, on the Matadors’ field.

The Tritons’ usually potent offense led by quarterback Jack Sears never got untracked. The Duke commit spent most of the night evading La Mirada’s rush and failing to find open receivers downfield. Seats completed 13 of 24 attempts for 113 yards. San Clemente tailback Austin Whitsett had trouble finding holes, but gained 90 yards on 14 carries that included a 34-yard run in the third period.

La Mirada (2-2), the defending CIF State Division III champion, had three offensive stars. Tailback Nick Hernandez rushed for 133 yards on 17 carries and had touchdown runs of 5, 34 and 1 yards. Wide receiver Elijah Hicks caught touchdown passes of 4 and 22 yards from quarterback Tristan Meyer and also had an 88-yard punt return for a score. Meyer was the model of efficiency, completing 6 of 6 passes for 91 yards.

San Clemente (2-2), ranked No. 8 in Orange County, also gave up a safety on a snap from center that sailed over punter Charlie Bine’s head and out of the end zone.

La Mirada showed its strength up front by driving 73 yards on five plays to score an opening-possession touchdown on Meyer’s 4-yard pass to Hicks.

San Clemente responded with its most impressive drive, 80 yards on six plays. Sears found Brandon Reaves in the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown to tie the score, 7-7.

The Matadors scored in four plays on their ensuing possession. Meyer connected with Jeremy Clar for a 44-yard gain to the San Clemente 12 and Hernandez rushed twice, the second time from the 5 for the touchdown and a 14-7 advantage.

The safety came next and it put La Mirada at midfield following the kickoff.

Meyer found Hicks for an 18-yard gain on first down, and Hernandez dashed 34 yards for a touchdown to lift the Matadors into a 23-7 lead.

San Clemente drove the ball from its 20 to the La Mirada 13 midway through the second quarter, but an intentional-grounding pass by Sears on third-and-10 pushed the Tritons back to the 35 to force a punt.

On fourth-and-32, Sears lined up in the spread, but punted instead. Hicks caught the ball, crossed the field and ran 88-yards for a touchdown and a 29-7 lead.


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