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Irvine Comes Up Big in Win

Sea View League: Vaqueros beat Newport Harbor and take major step toward dethroning Sailors as league champions.


When it was over, and his team could finally breathe easily, Terry Henigan told his players they had just been part of "a great, great, great victory, one of the best in the program's history."

So much for merely calling fifth-ranked Irvine's win over Newport Harbor just a big game.

The Vaqueros used strong special teams play, some outstanding gang tackling and a brilliant play by Joe Bollard to defeat Newport Harbor, 19-14, in a Sea View League opener Friday.

The game was a rematch of last season's Southern Section Division VI title game, won by Newport Harbor, 19-18. The Sailors also won the regular-season game, 12-10.

And this game lived up to its hype.

Despite digging a nine-point hole in the first quarter and trailing by 12 in the fourth, Newport Harbor (4-2, 0-1) was one play away from winning in the final minutes, and it looked as if the Sailors might have had it on fourth down with just over two minutes remaining. Needing one yard at their own 47 to continue the drive, Chris Manderino broke through the stacked defensive front and dashed into the secondary for his longest gain of the night, 23 yards. Fortunately for the Vaqueros, they had Bollard as the last line of defense.

Bollard latched onto Manderino and pulled him to the ground at the 30. It was a fantastic one-on-one tackle, and Manderino isn't often brought down in such fashion.

"I saw him break, and I had to go for it," said Bollard, whose team is 6-0, 1-0 in league. "Our whole game plan, the defense had to fly to the ball and gang tackle him."

That's what it took most of the night. Manderino carried 34 times for 168 yards and scored on two one-yard carries. He always seemed one high-step away from breaking the long gainer.

"My God, he's a stud," Henigan said. "We kept hitting and hitting him."

Manderino had only one more carry, for two yards, then Morgan Craig misfired on three passes. And barring a major upset over the next four weeks, the Sailors' hopes for repeating as league champions are history.

Just as important as Bollard's open-field tackle was the outstanding play of Irvine's special teams, which set up 16 points--including nine on Newport Harbor's first two possessions.

Godfrey Young opened the third quarter with a 69-yard kickoff return to the 24, and Travis Otott--who completed 12 of 17 passes for 131 yards--threw a 25-yard touchdown pass Josh Short for a 19-7 lead.

Manderino's second touchdown made it 19-14 with 10:41 to play.

It was just as good for Irvine in the first quarter. Eric Patton partially blocked Duke Burchell's punt on the first series, and Young capped a 42-yard drive with a one-yard run. David Doomey missed the point-after following a five-yard penalty.

Dan Beuchat blocked Burchell's next punt and Mike Brooks recovered at Newport Harbor's 20-yard line. The Sailors forced Doomey to kick a 37-yard field goal, providing a 9-0 lead.

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