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Sailors Find Their Stride, Run Down Laguna Hills

Prep football: After slow start, Newport Harbor uses third-quarter flurry to beat Hawks, 23-7. Manderino gains 180 yards.


After a sluggish start, Newport Harbor pounded its way past Laguna Hills, 23-7, in a Sea View League football game Friday at Newport Harbor High.

Chris Manderino rushed for 180 yards and two touchdowns in 28 carries for the Sailors, who broke open a close game at halftime by scoring 16 points in a 3-minute 14-second span of the third quarter.

"After losing a big emotional game to Irvine last week, you're hoping you don't come back mentally out of it," Newport Harbor Coach Jeff Brinkley said. "In the second half, we started blocking better so our ballcarriers could produce some yardage."

Newport Harbor (5-2, 2-0 in league), ranked sixth in the Southern Section Division VI poll, only led 7-0 at halftime over Laguna Hills (3-4, 0-2), ranked ninth in Division VI.

But the Sailors took control after the second-half kickoff. Newport Harbor took 6 1/2 minutes to drive 88 yards in 12 plays--10 of them runs--with reserve Ryan Ortega scoring on a 21-yard run with 5:27 left in the third quarter.

Then Laguna Hills' special teams handed Newport Harbor two points when the Hawks snapped the ball through the end zone on a punt on the next possession.

Newport Harbor took the free kick, and after Manderino ran once for nine yards, he scored on a 46-yard run up the middle with 2:13 left in the third quarter. Brian Gaeta's conversion made it 23-0.

"We knew we weren't playing up to our maximum potential in the first half," Manderino said. "There were some sloppy plays, like me not holding onto the ball."

Manderino fumbled twice in the second quarter, but Laguna Hills couldn't convert those turnovers into points.

Manderino fumbled once at the Newport Harbor 25 and Mike McCloskey recovered for the Hawks with 2:56 remaining in the second quarter. But Laguna Hills running back Matt Chandler fumbled three plays later and Newport Harbor's Alan Saenz recovered.

Saenz, Gaeta (one interception) and Jim Rothwell (one sack) led a defensive unit that held Laguna Hills to 53 yards rushing in 28 carries. Chandler, who entered the game with 561 yards rushing, finished with 35 yards in 12 carries.

Laguna Hills avoided the shutout by scoring late in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Chris Johnson, who completed 13 of 25 passes for 140 yards, found Brian Anderson for a 58-yard reception to set up his 10-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Miltenberger with 1:01 remaining.

Anderson finished with four receptions for 86 yards, but his 58-yard catch in the final three minutes was his first since the Hawks' first drive of the game.

Laguna Hills took the opening kickoff and moved to the Newport Harbor 33, but the drive stalled after Dane Barton tackled Chandler for a five-yard loss and Johnson threw two incomplete passes.

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