You have to wonder if Newport Harbor hadn’t been setting up La Habra for this game. The buzz about the Sailors the last few weeks was that they were back to old time Newport football with a determined ground game.
But Jeff Brinkley scripted the first 10 plays of the game, seven were pass plays, and the Sailors went to the air to knock the wind out of top-seeded La Habra in a 49-48 upset in the second round of the Southern Section Southwest Division playoffs.
Newport scored the game's first 21 points, then blew the lead before winning in the final minute as Cole Norris threw his fifth touchdown pass, his fourth to Quest Truxton.
Newport is on to the semifinals for the first time in eight years. They will play host to Fullerton, which defeated Los Alamitos, 21-7.
Score: Newport Harbor 49, La Habra 48
Key Stats: Cole Norris completed 36 of 63 passes for 474 yards and five touchdowns. Quest Truxton had 14 receptions for 233 yards and four touchdowns, of 14, 11, 14 and 16 yards. The latter came with 50 seconds remaining. Truxton also had an interception near the goal line on the last play of the game on a Hail Mary pass attempt.
Pivotal Moment: On the game-winning drive, Newport Harbor faced fourth and 5 yards from its own 39. Norris connected with Truxton for a 22-yard gain. Without that play, the Sailors lose.
Quotable: “Number 1 seed and I have a game like that. … That’s what I’ve been dreaming of since I was small,” Newport Harbor receiver/defensive back Quest Truxton told the Orange County Register. “I knew I was going to have to be the guy we go to. “
Quotable II: “They’re big and physical up front and we weren’t going to be able to sit and just pound the ball at them,” said Newport Harbor coach Jeff Brinkley. “We knew we were going to have to throw it.”
Records: Newport Harbor (7-5), La Habra (10-2)Notes: The winning touchdown drive covered 81 yards and began with two minutes remaining. It included converting a fourth-and-five situation at the Newport 39 as Norris connected with Truxton for 22 yards. A pass interference penalty moved Newport to the Highlander 16 with 58 seconds remaining, setting up the winning pass from Norris to Truxton. After a penalty moved the ball back 5 yards, Michael Schultz converted the point-after for a 49-48 lead. … In addition to the TD passes to Truxton, Norris also hit Cory Stowell with a 15-yarder to make it 28-7 with 4:07 left in the first half. Stowell had 11 receptions for 113 yards. … Stowell’s biggest play of the night, though, came in the fourth quarter. He blocked the point-after that held La Habra to 48 points. … Credit La Habra for coming back. The Highlanders scored 21 unanswered points to tie the score at 28-28 less than a minute into the third quarter. …
La Habra took the lead, 42-35, on Carlos Martin’s 62-yard run with 9:40 left in the game. … After Chance Siemonsma’s 2-yard run tied the score at 42-42, Martin scored on a 48-yard pass from Eric Barriere with 2:07 remaining. Justin Gattica’s point-after attempt was blocked by Stowell. … Barriere passed for 247 yards and touchdowns of 53 and 48 yards. He also rushed for 167 yards and scores of 2 and 67 yards. … La Habra’s only other loss of the season was a 46-21 setback to Mission Viejo. … According to Brinkley, the last time Newport beat a No. 1 seeded team was 1992 against Riverside Rubidoux.
Newport Harbor 49, La Habra 48
Fullerton 21, Los Alamitos 7
Edison 10, Villa Park 0
Huntington Beach 42, San Juan Hills 12