Newport Harbor High entered Friday night’s football game against Marina on the verge of going winless for the first time since 1945.
However, it was a balanced attack that gave the Sailors their first win of the year.
Quarterback Sam Barela threw for three touchdowns, and running back Chad Koste ran for three scores, helping Newport Harbor end its eight-game losing streak with a 52-35 win against host Marina at Westminster High.
With all that was on the line coming into the Sunset League game, Sailors coach Jeff Brinkley said the only thing he cared about was his team getting its first win of the season. Newport Harbor improved to 1-8 overall and 1-3 in league.
“You can’t think about all of those things. You just have to believe in the system and all you’ve done,” said Brinkley, who is in his 32nd season in charge of the Sailors. “We know we’ve got a formula that works and you have to keep plugging away. Sometimes you are 14-0, which we’ve been [in 1994], and sometimes you are 0-8. But, you know, just bust your tail for seven days a week and hopefully something good will happen.”
Barela completed 14 of 22 passes for 181 yards, and Koste ran nine times for 85 yards.
Two of Barela’s touchdown passes were caught by Newport Harbor wide receiver Jake Bashore. The senior finished with six receptions for 139 yards.
Marina (3-6, 0-4 in league) was down 38-28 entering the fourth quarter. Newport Harbor looked to put the game away with a 56-yard touchdown run up the middle by Koste with 7:32 left to play.
The Vikings used a five-play, 91-yard scoring drive to get back within 10.
But a faulty onside kick from Marina rolled about four yards and it ended up being recovered by Newport Harbor.
The Sailors chewed time off the clock. They put together a 10-play, 48-yard drive that lasted four minutes, capping it with Koste’s three-yard rushing touchdown with 2:08 to go.
Ian Green was the most productive Marina player. Green rushed for 134 yards and two touchdowns, threw for 100 yards and caught five passes for 64 yards and a touchdown.
Green was responsible for three of Marina’s five touchdowns.
Marina coach Jeff Turley was not surprised by his opponent’s offensive onslaught.
“We knew they were a much better team than their record shows,” Turley said of the Sailors. “They’ve played some tough teams and had some misfortunes. But we broke down on the tackles tonight, and if you do not tackle, you don’t win games.”
The Vikings now hope to play spoiler next week, when they play host to the second-place Chargers (6-3, 3-1).
As for Newport Harbor, it will be looking to end its season on a high note with another win as it travels to Huntington Beach (3-6, 2-2) next week.
Newport Harbor 52, Marina 35
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Newport Harbor 3 – 21 – 14 – 14 — 52
Marina 7 – 7 – 14 – 7 — 35
NH – Schroeder 35 FG, 6:11.
M – Savea 16 run (Stitt kick), 3:02.
M – Robinson 35 run (Stitt kick), 10:02.
NH – Koste 5 run (Schroeder kick), 7:25.
NH – Bashore 14 pass from Barela (Schroeder kick), 1:09.
NH – Phillips 9 pass from Barela, (Schroeder kick), :28.
M – Green 7 run (Stitt kick), 7:38.
NH – Bashore 60 pass from Barela (Schroeder kick), 7:24.
M – Green 7 run (Stitt kick), 4:59.
NH – Koste 1 run (Schroeder kick), 2:28.
Newport Harbor ends season-long frustration with triumph over Marina
Newport Harbor 52, Marina 35
Newport 3 21 14 14 – 52
Marina 7 7 14 7 – 35
Passing: Barela (NH) 15-21-0, 250, 3 TDs. Green (Mar) 6-11-0, 106. Few (Mar) 3-6-1, 63, 1 TD.
Rushing: Koste (NH) 9-85, 3 TDs, Andrews (NH) 20-82. Green (Mar) 17-133, 2 TDs, Savea (Mar) 11-56, 1 TD, Robinson (Mar) 3-39, 1 TD.
Receiving: Bashore (NH) 6-140, 2 TDs, Cruz (NH) 3-31, Sholin (NH) 2-38, Andrews (NH) 3-32, Phillips (NH) 1-9, 1 TD. Pendleton (Mar), 2-68, Green (Mar) 3-63, 1 TD
With 10 minutes left in the first half and down by 11 points it appeared Newport Harbor’s football team was on the brink of its ninth straight loss of the season.
But the Sailors, especially quarterback Sam Barela, listened to their coach, Jeff Brinkley, to rally and save themselves from a potential winless season.
Newport Harbor scored 21 consecutive points to close out the first half and kept it going after halftime en route to a 52-35 Sunset League win over Marina at Westminster High.
The victory gave great reason for Brinkley and the Sailors (1-8 overall, 1-3 in league) to celebrate afterward, when the coach was suddenly talking playoff hopes.
Marina (3-6, 1-3) jumped on Newport Harbor with touchdown runs from Brandon Savea (16 yards) and John Robinson (35 yards) to answer a 3-0 deficit.
Barela was frustrated at that point. Brinkley, in his 32nd year with the Sailors, told his quarterback to calm down and make better decisions.
It has been a trying year for Brinkley. But despite the adversity, the coach said he hasn’t contemplated retiring.
“I do the same thing every week,” he said, responding if he has thought to retire. “If you talk to anyone around me I’m a creature of habit. I know what it takes to win. I know the formula and I’ve never changed it. It’s like I tell these guys, don’t get bored with repetition. I do the same thing seven days a week. Never changes.”
Barela threw for 250 yards and three touchdown passes, completing 15 of his 21 passes with no interceptions.
His leadership helped the Sailors in the second half as the teams traded touchdowns. Both teams scored two TDs each in the third quarter, but Newport Harbor pulled away in the final quarter.
Quarterback Ian Green proved versatile for the Vikings in their homecoming game. He ran for 133 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught a touchdown pass.
Newport Harbor will finish the regular season next week at Huntington Beach, and Marina will play Edison on Friday, Nov. 3.