Tornadoes Passing Attack Snuffed
Laguna’s pass defense stepped up and took the challenge from Hoover’s feared passing attack to apply the necessary pass rush and secondary pass coverage to limit the Glendale school’s offensive ability in a systematic defeat of the Tornadoes (1-1) last Friday night in Laguna’s 84th season opening game. It was the 49th year Laguna opened the season at home and the squad is now 28-20-1 when starting a season on home turf.
The Tornadoes are a D-12 school like Laguna and the level of play was consistent with many of the teams Laguna has faced in the Orange Coast League the previous 12 seasons. Breakers struggled on their first three possessions, turning the ball over on an interception preventing a score, a midfield drive stalling on downs, and a field goal shanked to the right of the goal post. Breakers’ initial score finally came with just under three minutes left in the initial period when Hoover failed to convert on a fourth down play deep in their territory, giving Laguna the ball on the Tornadoes’ 23 yard line. A short pass to Shane Lythgoe for four yards was followed by an Andrew Johnson passing strike to Sean Nolan and it was 7-0 after Noah Handel made the first of six extra points.
Breakers made it 14-0 on their first possession of the second quarter on a six-play drive. Johnson was a little roughed up on a third down run and sat out the final play of the drive which caught Hoover off-guard as substitute quarterback Jack Crawford tossed a perfect strike to Sean Nolan for Laguna’s second touchdown. Johnson returned on the next play and remained in charge the rest of the game on offense.
Hoover was stopped again on their sixth possession of the contest, once again falling short on a fourth down on Laguna’s 44. Five plays, including a big 44-yard pass play from Andrew Johnson to Jack Crawford, and it was 21-0 as Johnson capped the drive with a short toss to Kai Ball.
In the third quarter, Laguna gave up their first possession with an interception, but Sean Nolan got the ball right back with a pick of his own with a 30-yard return to set up another Laguna score to make it 28-0. Hoover responded as their star player, John Chung, took the ensuing kickoff back 97 yards for their first score, and Hoover scored again on a big play after the Breakers made it 35-7, but neither play could rally the visitors to make it a competitive game against the Laguna starters.
The contest ended with just under a minute remaining when the stadium lights went out, due to the automatic timing system, as the game length was long due to a total of over 60 passes being thrown. Rather than wait for the lights to warm up, the referees conferred with the coaches from both teams and the game was concluded.
Saturday’s contest opened with the familiar voice of PA announcer, local Cary Hyden, back for his 12th season at the mic, and the Breakers gave him plenty of touchdowns and big plays to start the season. Hyden will absent this Friday to move his daughter into her college dorm, but he will return on Sept. 7 for the Dana Hills contest.
L – Nolan 19 pass from Johnson (Handel kick) 2:41 1stQ
L – Nolan 21 pass from Crawford (Handel kick) 7:14 2ndQ
L – Ball 3 pass from Johnson (Handel kick) 1:14 2ndQ
L – Diver 35 pass from Johnson (Handel kick) 6:49 3rdQ
H – Chung 97 KOR (kick) 3rdQ
L – Lythgoe 17 pass from Johnson (Handel kick) 1:13 3rdQ
H – Chung 64 run (kick) 0:37 3rdQ
L – Johnson 1 run (Handel kick) 2:53 4thQ
Rushing: Lythgoe 12-52, Johnson 5-(14), Castillo 608, Harper 7-17
Receiving:Nolan 5-43, Lythgoe 3-23, Ball 3-43, Harper 1-0, Crawford 2-56, Diver 1-35, Sorenson 1-11, Fink 1-4
Passing: Johnson 31-16-2, 194 yds 4 YDS 133.9 rating, Crawford 1-1-0 21 yds 1 TD
Interception Returns: Nolan 1-30, Ball 1-0
Punt Returns: Nolan 1-18
Kick Off Returns: Nolan 1-62, Pierpoint 1-16, Pigott 1-12
Punts: Nolan 2-68 yds 34.0 ave
Kick Offs: Handel 7 KO – 1 Touchback
Up Next: Defending D-12 Champion Big Bear comes down to sea level to take on the Breakers on Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. at Guyer Field. Last time they met, Breakers lost to Big Bear 32-10, but the game was closer than the score indicated. So far, Big Bear is 2-0 with a 53-12 win over Cal Military and 26-7 over Twentynine Palms. Laguna will have to be sharper on their offensive play execution to stay in this game – it will be a big test.
9/7 – Dana Hills (1-1)
9/14 – Bellflower (2-0)
9/21 – @ Estancia (1-0)
9/28 – @ Marina (1-1)
10/5 – Rio Hondo (1-0)
10/12 – @ Western (1-1)
10/19 – Ocean View (1-0)
10/25 – Godinez (0-2)