Daily Pilot – Newport Harbor High has enjoyed a lot of success with Jeff Brinkley as its coach in football season openers, winning 24 of the past 31. In Brinkley’s 32nd year in charge, the Sailors found it difficult to do anything right on Saturday. They turned the ball over twice. They committed 10 penalties. They allowed a touchdown on fourth-and-long. They struggled to run the ball. And they failed to stop Pacifica quarterback Ben Jefferson.
The dual-threat senior showed off his arm and legs in the host Mariners’ 33-7 upset of Newport Harbor, ranked No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section Division 6 poll, at Bolsa Grande High. While the Sailors kicked off the season, Pacifica played its second game. And for the second time in as many weeks, the Mariners (2-0), No. 6 in Division 10, impressed.
Jefferson beat Trabuco Hills on the ground during a 27-0 win last week on the road, rushing for 173 yards. He went to the air against the Sailors, completing 21 of 30 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns. “The quarterback is very athletic,” Brinkley said of Jefferson. “He runs around and makes plays.”
Jefferson also finished with 10 carries for 71 yards, including touchdown runs of 30 and five yards. Right away on the opening drive, Jefferson delivered on a gutsy call. The offense faced a fourth-and-inches situation on its 22, and it went for it, moving the chains on a three-yard run by Jefferson. Jefferson dialed up another fourth-down play nine plays later, and the odds were stacked against the Mariners. They were in fourth-and-16, and this one produced more than a first down. Jefferson threw a pass to one of his tallest wide receivers — 6 feet 2 Matt Moslenko — in the end zone. Despite the cornerback hitting Moslenko before the ball arrived, Moslenko still caught it for a 22-yard touchdown.
Moslenko, who had four catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns, helped the Mariners take a 6-0 lead midway through the first quarter. Newport Harbor appeared on its way to responding. The Sailors moved into the opponent’s 36 after quarterback Sam Barela found receiver Jake Bashore on a 21-yard pass, and a 15-yard personal foul penalty on the Mariners. Then the Sailors went backward. Three five-yard penalties and two runs going for negative five yards left Newport Harbor with a third-and-30 on its 44. Penalties marred Newport Harbor, which committed seven for 45 yards in the first half. The Sailors were fortunate to go into halftime only down 13-0.
“We struggled offensively,” said Brinkley, whose team only had three first downs in the first half and it finished the evening with only 47 rushing yards. “It’s going to be a long year of building for us. You either get better, or you get worse. Hopefully we can get better.” Brinkley and the Sailors head home next week to play in renovated Davidson Field. As for finally getting to play in one of the finest stadiums in Orange County for the first time, Brinkley was more concerned about improving. Newport Harbor gets Chino Hills (2-0) on Friday.
The Sailors had trouble slowing down Pacifica’s offense. Raimon Sagastume rushed 17 times for 104 yards and a touchdown. Sagastume, who transferred from Brethren Christian after the school dropped football in July, set up Pacifica’s second first-quarter touchdown with a 21-yard run. On the next play, Jefferson rushed for a five-yard touchdown. Newport Harbor finally stopped the Mariners on fourth down. Pacifica got inside the Sailors’ 10-yard line late in the first half. The Mariners decided to go for it on fourth down again. Their previous three attempts resulted in a first down, a touchdown and a first down. Pacifica tried to get another fourth-down touchdown, but the Sailors tackled running back Isaak Togia a yard shy of the end zone with 64 seconds left before the break. The Mariners failed to get any points, but they had enough to win.
The start to Brinkley’s 32nd year with the Sailors almost turned out like his third with the program. The Sailors avoided getting shutout for the first time in an opener since 1988. They can thank Togia for keeping a drive alive midway through the third quarter. After Togia dropped an easy interception, the linebacker dropped to the grass. As the Sailors brought in their punt team on fourth-and-two, Togia began to do push-ups, and the referees flagged him for unsportsmanlike conduct. Newport Harbor got a new set of downs near midfield, and it ended the Mariners’ shutout bid five plays later on Jaylen Andrews’ five-yard touchdown run.
“He’s used to doing [the push-ups] in practice,” Pacifica coach Vinnie Lopez said of Togia.
Pacifica 33, Newport Harbor 7
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Newport Harbor 0 – 0 – 7 – 0 — 7
Pacifica 13 – 0 – 13 – 7 — 33
P – Moslenko 22 pass from Jefferson (kick failed), 6:24.
P – Jefferson 5 run (Deaton kick), 2:16.
P – Moslenko 39 pass from Jefferson (Deaton kick), 11:01.
NH – Andrews 5 run (Schroeder kick), 3:24.
P – Sagastume 20 run (kick failed), 1:33.
P – Jefferson 30 run (Deaton kick), 2:30.
NH – Andrews, 16-32, 1 TD.
P – Sagastume, 17-104, 1 TD.
NH – Barela, 16-30-1, 154.
P – Jefferson, 21-30-0, 268, 2 TDs.
NH – Reed, 6-84.
P – Moslenko, 4-121, 2 TDs.
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