The Battle of the Bay was so evenly played that it could've gone to Newport Harbor High or Corona del Mar on Friday.
But every battle has to have a winner.
Newport Harbor always seems to beat CdM in these matchups.
The Sailors had to rally this time for a 27-26 victory to beat their rivals for the six straight season and improve their record to 38-13 in the city championship game.
"One of the best games ever and one of the toughest losses," CdM Coach Scott Meyer said in a text on Saturday. "Very proud of our guys."
Since Meyer's arrival at CdM, his teams have challenged the Sailors.
The last two meetings between Newport Harbor and CdM have been close. Last year's game was a 29-27 win for the Sailors at Orange Coast College.
Newport Harbor turned to a sophomore quarterback in the 51st edition of the Battle of the Bay after losing starter Zach Wade to a broken foot the previous week.
Cole Norris came through for the Sailors in a big way. On fourth-and-goal, the backup quarterback threw a game-winning 22-yard touchdown pass with 24 seconds left to play.
After CdM's Luke Napolitano pinned Newport Harbor deep in its own end with a 60-yard punt, Norris engineered the game-winning, 95-yard drive with 2:57 left.
The offense ran 17 plays, 14 through the air.
Norris completed eight passes for 111 yards on the drive. His team went backward three times, twice on five-yard penalties and once on a 15-yard offensive pass interference call.
The last penalty moved the Tars from CdM's seven to CdM's 22 with 37 seconds left. On third-and-goal from the 22, Norris threw to wide receiver Quest Truxton in the end zone, only to see the pass fall incomplete.
With 31 seconds left and faced with a fourth-and-goal from the 22, each team called a timeout. When the teams returned to the field, Norris didn't go to his top two targets — Landon Gyulay and Truxton, who each had 100-plus yards receiving.
Norris went to his third receiver, his third read. It was the correct one because he found junior Cory Stowell in the end zone for the game-winning touchdown pass with 24 seconds to go.
"Cole played remarkable for a sophomore," said Brinkley, whose quarterback finished with 245 yards and two touchdowns on 14-of-26 passing in his first start on varsity. "[He] had to step in a big game in front of 5,000 people. He did a [heck] of a job."
The quarterback job is Norris' now.
Brinkley said Wade is out six weeks.
Corona del Mar dropped two spots to No. 4 in the CIF Southern Section Southern Division poll after its setback to Newport Harbor, but the Sea Kings earned a win.
Laguna Hills has forfeited its 21-12 season-opening win to CdM on Aug. 31, due to the use of an ineligible player. The Sea Kings are now 2-1, instead of 1-2.
How much of a difference did senior left guard Oscar Reyes make for the Costa Mesa High football team on Thursday night?
The Mustangs (2-2) had their best rushing game of the season to upset Los Amigos, 40-14, at Orange Coast College. They totaled 291 yards on 56 carries.
Reyes, a three-year starter who had missed the first three games with a broken ankle, helped make a sizable hole for junior running back Oronde Crenshaw on his 34-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
"You saw the difference," Costa Mesa Coach Wally Grant said. "That was the big difference. That was the piece that we were lacking. I've got kids that are going to be there, they just weren't there yet. Now we've got Oscar back, and we're a whole different team with Oscar in there."
Estancia High had a chance to start the season 3-0 for the first time in 13 years, but lost a tough one, 20-18, to Irvine at home Thursday.
At least the Eagles (2-1) didn't lose running back Robert Murtha to an injury for the rest of the season.
Estancia Coach Mike Bargas said Murtha left the game late in the third quarter. At first, Bargas believed it was Murtha's shin, until he learned Friday that it was a sprained ankle.
Bargas said Murtha might be available for Estancia's game against University (1-2-1) on Thursday.
Murtha rushed for 114 yards and one touchdown on 17 carries against Irvine. He is 40 yards away from breaking the Newport-Mesa career rushing record of 4,333 yards set by Costa Mesa's Binh Tran.
Sage Hill School's Ramer Field was rededicated during a ceremony prior to the Lightning's 52-0 loss to Mission Prep on Friday night.
Gary and Lisa Jabara, who made a donation of more than $1 million to the school in May that allowed the field's renovation, were recognized for their contribution. Also in attendance were Maureen and Phil Ramer, along with Sage board of trustees chairwoman Vicki Booth, head of school Gordon McNeill and athletic directors J.R. Tolver and Megan Cid.
The Costa Mesa rushing attack was remarkably consistent against the Lobos, with Crenshaw rushing for a career-high 173 yards and senior Justin Smith adding 73 yards. Both players scored two touchdowns.
Of Mesa's 56 carries, just four went for zero or minus yardage.
The yardage was more than double Mesa's 136 rushing yards in the previous game, a 21-13 loss to Katella.
"My coaching staff and my kids worked their tails off this week, to fix what was broken the last couple of weeks," Grant said. "They reaped the benefits [against Los Amigos]."
Newport Harbor's Talalelei Teaupa is one tough tailback to bring down.
The senior carried the ball 29 times for a career-high 237 yards. He had touchdown runs of 74 and 10 yards.
The Sea Kings only managed to tackle him for losses on two runs, coming late in the game. The offensive line, featuring tackles Ramsey Hufford and Zach Cornwell, pushed back CdM all night.
With CdM starting tailback Kai Wilson out with an Achilles tendon injury, quarterback Cayman Carter ran a lot.
The senior rushed 22 times for 166 yards and one touchdown. The score gave the Sea Kings their first lead, 20-14, three minutes into the second half.
After the Sailors jumped out to a 14-0 first-quarter lead, Carter in the second and third quarters rallied CdM, which went on to score 23 straight points.
CdM has a special weapon in kicker Grif Amies, who has a strong and accurate leg.
The senior converted field-goal attempts from 48, 46, 29 and 22 yards against his former school, Newport Harbor.
Eleven flags and special teams let Estancia down.
The penalties kept pushing the Eagles back. They missed on four possible points because of two blocked extra-point kicks and one failed two-point-conversion attempt.
They had to go for two points at the end to tie the score after quarterback Brad Wilson connected with wide receiver Ben Beck on a 10-yard touchdown pass with 30 seconds left.
Irvine broke up the two-point try.
Estancia's defense excelled, picking off three Irvine passes.
Levi Stillman, a senior cornerback, had two picks, returning one 73 yards for a touchdown.
— From staff reportsCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun