Corona del Mar quarterback David Rasor, shown scrambling during last week’s game, threw what proved to be the game-winning pass Friday night against San Clemente. (Don Leach / Daily Pilot)
Corona del Mar’s opening drive of Friday night’s matchup against San Clemente is what Southern California high school football fans have become used to.
The Sea Kings executed an 11-play, 85-yard drive that resulted in a four-yard touchdown pass from David Rasor to John Tipton, giving Corona del Mar an early one-score advantage over the Tritons.
The offense looked fluid, confident and sharp with former Sea Kings signal caller and now UCLA quarterback Ethan Garbers on the sidelines, but it was the only time that Corona del Mar would find the end zone.
Instead, the Sea Kings had to lean on their defensive effort to overcome a physical San Clemente team to come away with a 7-3 victory in a battle of two of Orange County’s top public school programs.
“After that first drive we thought, ‘OK, we’re good,’” Corona del Mar coach Dan O’Shea said. “But credit to San Clemente and the odd front defense they play. We knew it was going to be a challenge. It was a battle.”
The Sea Kings (4-0) struggled to get the football across midfield throughout the final three quarters, some because of immense pressure and plugged running lanes from the Tritons defense, but also because of some self-inflicted penalties and dropped passes.
The defining play of the game came with 2:15 remaining and Corona del Mar facing a third and 11 on the Tritons’ 48-yard line.
Rasor dropped back and saw single coverage on the right side for one of his favorite targets, receiver Max Lane. Rasor passed in Lane’s direction and the 5-foot-10 senior went up and made the catch with a defensive back draped all over him.
The resulting first down allowed Corona del Mar to run out the remainder of the clock to pull off the gritty victory.
“It was a sound night for their defense,” Rasor said. “When I saw that safety come down off of Max, I trusted him to go up and make that play and come down with the ball.”
San Clemente (3-1) had its best chance at the end zone called back because of a holding penalty after quarterback Lachlan Van Rosmalen passed to Easton Cattich on a short crossing route.
The mistake proved to be a big one as the Tritons had to settle for a 33-yard field goal from Sean Harry.
Corona del Mar was limited to 109 yards of total offense in the opening half while San Clemente tallied 116 yards of offense.
The Tritons’ lone scoring chance of the first half was a 35-yard field-goal attempt early in the second quarter, which was blocked by Jake Simkins who flew in off the left side untouched.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.