NEWPORT BEACH – For the Los Alamitos football teams, it was far more nerve-wracking than a 35-point win should be.
The Griffins couldn’t break away from Corona del Mar in the first half, thanks to their own penalties and turnovers. Their USC-committed receiver Makai Lemon left the game in the first quarter because of an injury, and USC-committed quarterback Malachi Nelson departed in the third quarter because of an injury.
Los Alamitos put together a strong second half to beat Corona del Mar 49-14 in a Sunset League game Thursday at Newport Harbor High.
And it turned out that Lemon’s injury was a mild ankle sprain and Nelson had a right calf cramp that is not expected to keep him out of the Griffins’ next game.
That game is against Edison on Thursday, Oct. 13 at Huntington Beach High. Edison went into this week 6-0 overall and 1-0 in league, and is ranked No. 4 in the Orange County top 25. Edison plays at No. 12 Newport Harbor (4-2, 0-1) on Friday.
Los Alamitos, No. 2 in the county rankings, improved to 5-2 overall and is 2-0 in league. The Griffins had a 61-21 win over Newport Harbor last week and scored 69 points the previous week in a nonleague win over Santa Margarita.
Senior running back Damian Henderson had another big night for the Griffins. He slithered, twisted and powered his way to 242 yards and four touchdowns on 28 carries. Henderson rushed for 303 yards and five touchdowns in the 69-49 win over Santa Margarita.
Los Alamitos senior receiver/defensive back Gavin Porch scored on a 4-yard pass from Nelson and returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown.
Corona del Mar senior quarterback David Rastor threw touchdown passes to Zach Giuliano and to Cooper Hoch for the No. 11 Sea Kings (5-2, 1-1). They play Huntington Beach on Oct. 14 at Huntington Beach High.
Los Alamitos’ first possession ended with a lost fumble. The Griffins next possession ended with Henderson scoring on a 31-yard run. An interception by Corona del Mar’s Kaulin Post at the Sea Kings 9-yard line ended the Griffins following offensive series.
The Griffins made it 14-0 on Nelson’s touchdown pass to Porch. Giuliano’s 5-yard touchdown reception sliced the Los Alamitos lead to 14-7. Henderson’s second scoring run on a 1-yard blast stretched the lead to 21-7, which would be the halftime score.
“We couldn’t play any worse than did in the first half,” Los Alamitos coach Ray Fenton said, “and we were still up by 14.”
After Los Alamitos failed to convert on a fourth down early in the fourth quarter Rasor threw a deep pass to the very open Hock for a 45-yard touchdown that made it 21-14. Then Los Alamitos, and Henderson, took over.
Henderson scored on the first play of the fourth quarter on a 10-yard run, Griffins defensive lineman Ryder Trujillo recovered a Corona del Mar fumble and the Sea Kings 25 and four plays later Henderson ran it in from 3 yards out for a 35-14 lead.
Porch scored on his interception return and sophomore backup running back Anthony League scored the game’s final touchdown on a 44-yard run late in the fourth quarter for the 49-14 result.
Nelson went down in major pain late in the third quarter. After being helped to the sideline he tried to run off the injury, but the game was in hand and there is that Edison game coming up.
“It’s still tight and it won’t go away,” Nelson said of his right calf after the game. “I tried everything I could on the sideline.”
He finished with one of his least productive games throwing for 108 yards on 13 completions from 26 attempts.
“It was a little shaky,” Nelson said. “We started out slowly and we kind of let (the Sea Kings) stay in the game a little bit. I definitely did not play the way I wanted to play.”
Rasor, who committed to UC Davis, completed 16 of 24 passes for 146 yards and the two touchdowns. Russell Weir had six receptions for 57 yards for Corona del Mar.
Fenton could see Thursday’s early struggles coming.
“It’s Corona del Mar, a storied program with great athletes and it was a trap game for us,” Fenton said. “Our guys practiced poorly on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Our walk-through today was horrendous.
“We were a mess all week. Kids sometimes have to learn the hard way. They really do.”