Laguna Hosts Boron Friday, Nov. 18
Football (7-4, 4-1)
Laguna Beach High School’s football team overcame a tumultuous week of distractions, a long bus trip and squandered opportunities to rally in the closing minutes and earn a victory against Duarte in their first playoff contest since 2012 on Friday, Nov. 11.
Earlier in the week, the school initiated a disciplinary action over a video posted by a football team member. The apparent violation of school policy led to the suspension of two-way players Adam Armstrong and Bruce Knill for the first quarter of play. Breakers were then hit with a practice-related injury to Sean Nolan, which prevented the key sophomore from fulfilling his kicking duties for the team, but still would allow him to see limited action in the field.
At Duarte (7-4 overall – Montview League champions), Laguna was able to survive the first quarter as they used a frosh-soph player to make the opening kickoff and then caught a break as Sean Nolan recovered a Falcon fumble on the Laguna 46-yard line returning it 10-yards.
Duarte’s first possession went 22 yards in eight plays consuming a third of the initial quarter. Breakers were unable to move the ball but used nearly three more minutes of the clock. Finn Moriarty filling in for punting duties hit what proved to be his shortest kick of the evening, pinning the hosts on their own 11 yard line. Breakers held in six plays getting their second start on the Laguna 31-yard line. Matt Hayes stepped in to help sustain the 10-play drive that gained the two suspended players two minutes into the possession. Breakers hit the end zone when Knill ran for 19 yards and then kicked the point-after for a 7-0 Laguna lead.
After holding Duarte to five plays, the Breakers marched to the Duarte 11-yard line, but two uncontested dropped passes by Laguna’s two top receivers killed the easy score opportunity. Inspired, the host school marched 85 yards in 10 plays to score on a 25-yard pass play, but missed the PAT. Breakers scored on the last play of the half as a true “hail Mary” pass was tipped at the goal line only to land in the hands of Knill who turned around and just made it across the goal line. His kick made it 14-6 before exiting the field for the intermission.
In the third quarter, Laguna had three possessions that gained little yardage due to a number of dropped passes. Breakers survived the Falcon’s first possession deep in Laguna territory, holding them to a minus 11 yards. The hosts next try went 85 yards in six plays with a sharp 28-yard pass cutting the lead to 14-13. Just over midway in the quarter, Duarte seemed emboldened with momentum. Finn Moriarty’s two punts were key for Laguna during this stretch as he twice hit for 48 yards to pin Duarte deep in their side of the field.
Breakers finally got a big break four minutes into the last quarter when Duarte’s Martin Keeley lost the possession on a 19-yard pass play only to have Henry Syvertsen scoop up the ball and ramble 23 yards down the sideline to the Falcon 18. The Breakers were now energized. Two Knill runs scored on a screen pass to Nolan. Knill’s kick was blocked and the Breakers led 20-13.
Duarte went into action marching 80 yards in nine plays including a fourth down 28-yard pass play and a 29-yard scoring play. Their fake PAT run gave them their only lead at 21-20 with just 2:25 remaining in front of their delirious fans.
Armstrong then took the ensuing kickoff 42 yards to give Laguna the ball on the Duarte 49 yard line. After a one-yard run by Curtis Harrison, the Breakers picked up an obvious pass inference call by Duarte for 15 yards. A screen pass to Knill and a five-yard Harrison run for a first down put the Breakers on the 24-yard line. After a drop pass at the goal line, Harrison then avoided a stiff rush on the next play with a short toss to Ryan Blaser, who rambled 18 yards up the middle and nearly scored. Knill then took the handoff and the Breakers were back in the lead.
Duarte took the kickoff with 28 seconds remaining and wasted time scrambling and only making three yards while losing a third of the remaining time. Laguna did a great job eliminating the deep threat and Duarte’s last try resulted in a near sack of their quarterback with the ball flipping into the air only to find its way into the hands of the slowest Falcon lineman, who fell after a short five yard run as time expired
This Friday, Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m., the Breakers host Boron High School from Kern County. The Bobcats (8-3) are among the smallest high schools in California to field an 11-man football team with an enrollment under 180 students. The town of Boron is primarily a mining community north of Edwards Air Force Base known for producing borax with the school located near 20-Mule Team Road. The desert squad is led by # 30 Laron Cherry, a 5-8 228 pound senior running back that has rushed for 1,749 yards and scored 21 touchdowns this season. A win by the Breakers would put them in the semifinals either in Santa Ana or hosting Azusa on Nov. 25.
L – Knill 19 run (Knill kick) 10:17 2nd Q
D – 25 pass (kick failed) 3:54 2nd Q
L – Knill 47 pass from Harrison (Knill kick) 0:00 2nd Q
D – 28 pass (kick) 5:18 3rd Q
L – Nolan 15 pass from Harrison (kick blocked) 7:11 4th Q
D – 29 pass (run) 2:25 4th Q
L – Knill 1 run (run failed) 0:28 4th Q
Rushing: Harrison 12-38, Knill 11-39, M Hayes 5-20
Passing: Harrison 27-15-0 159 yds 2 TDs 129.5 rating
Receiving: Knill 5-76, Blaser 3-39, Armstrong 2-6, Kilburg 2-11, Nolan 2-15, M Hayes 1-12
KO Returns: Armstrong 4-94 23.5 ave
Fumble Returns: Nolan 1-10, Syvertsen 1-23
Punting: Moriarty 6-264 44.0
Bruce Knill’s 20 points moves him into 9th place on the all-time Laguna career scoring list.
Curtis Harrison is now # 6 in season passing yards, tied for 3rd in touchdown passes and 5th in total offense just behind Danny Lane (1987). Finn Moriarty’s 65-yard punt in the third quarter was the third longest in Laguna history