NEWPORT BEACH — The Sea View League is a whole lot more interesting today.
One week after losing to Irvine in the final moments of a game it probably should have won, Corona del Mar learned something. It beat undefeated and eighth-ranked Santa Margarita, scoring a 14-7 victory over the Eagles in front of 2,500 at Newport Harbor High.
The Sea Kings (3-2, 1-1 in league) got a four-yard touchdown run from quarterback Aaron Perlmutter with 1 minute 25 seconds left in the game, and a two-point conversion on Perlmutter's completion to Lindsay Johnson, to stun the Eagles (4-1, 1-1).
It was an exasperating night for Santa Margarita, which accrued 145 yards in penalties and started seven of its 10 drives in Corona del Mar territory. The Eagles scored only once, when they began at the 27.
"This team played hard," Corona del Mar Coach Dave Holland said. "(Santa Margarita) scored a lot of points, and we played great defense.
"There were some penalties, but we made the plays when we had to."
The Eagles had scored 101 points in their first three games, and for the second week in a row ran into a defensive power. They scored a 14-7 victory over Woodbridge last week, and came up short against the Sea Kings.
"This is the biggest game of my life," said J.R. Walz, who rushed 25 times for 111 yards. On the game-winning 80-yard drive, he rushed for 45 yards, including four yards on a fourth-and-inches play with 2:45 to go, preceding Perlmutter's winning run.
The game was sealed with 28 seconds remaining when J.J. Di Cesare intercepted Derek Yankoff's pass at the 22 and returned it to the 49.
The Eagles missed two field goals and had one touchdown nullified by a penalty.
Santa Margarita opened the scoring in the first half. Brad Finneran intercepted his fourth pass of the season and his 53-yard return gave the Eagles the ball at the Corona del Mar 42, but he was also hit late, and the 15-yard penalty put the ball at the Sea King 27.
On the first play of the series, a face-mask penalty moved the ball to the 13. There, Yankoff found Brian Finneran at the eight-yard line, and the senior pulled his would-be tacklers into the end zone. It was Finneran's sixth touchdown of the year.
Ryan Korinke added the extra point with 6 minutes 20 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Sea Kings, whose longest drive of the night had been 11 yards, put together an 81-yard scoring march late in the half. Helped by 31 yards in penalties and a key five-yard gain by Perlmutter on third and five at the Eagle six, they scored on J.R. Walz's one-yard dive.