NEWPORT BEACH – A veteran quarterback and running back helped JSerra’s football team open a renovated stadium Friday with a victory for its new coach.
Three-year starter Matt Robinson passed for 340 yards and senior Al Fisher rushed for 101 yards as the No. 9 Lions defeated No. 13 Corona del Mar, 45-27, in the debut of Coach Pat Harlow at new-look Newport Harbor.
Robinson, a Montana commit, tossed two touchdowns while Fisher, a transfer from Paramount who played at JSerra as a freshman, rushed for two other scores.
“They’re unbelievable players,” Harlow said of the duo. “They won the game for us. We didn’t do very well up front and penalties were killing us. Excited to have the win but really disappointed how we played.”
JSerra (1-0) needed every bit of the offensive production because Corona del Mar quarterback Nathaniel Espinoza passed for 325 yards and two touchdowns to rising sophomore John Humphreys in his first start.
The pairing between the Division 1 Lions and Division 4 Sea Kings (0-1) produced more than 800 yards offense.
“CdM is a great program,” Harlow said. “They have a lot of pride and it showed.”
JSerra opened a 35-13 lead in the third quarter on the second touchdown runs by Chris Castilloand Fisher.
Fisher scored on an 11-yard TD run with 4:38 left in the quarter thanks to a path-clearing block from tight end TJ Medina but the Sea Kings avoid the knockout.
Corona del Mar answered with a 22-yard touchdown pass by Espinoza to Humphreys with 50 seconds left in the third.
“We got better tonight and we are going to be a special team squad,” CdM coach Dan O’Sheasaid. “We managed the line of scrimmage against a very physical football team.”
It was a huge night for receivers. Humphreys (five catches for 113) and teammate Tae Le (four for 106) each surpassed 100 yards while JSerra’s Tyler Shimomura hauled in six catches for 118 yards. The Lions’ Tarik Luckett added seven receptions for 97 yards.
Robinson helped highlight the fourth by rolling to his left and throwing across his body for a 14-yard TD to Luckett. The extra-point by Jake Haggard made it 42-20 early in the period.
Humphreys made a spectacular jumping catch along the sideline later in the fourth — his arms out-stretched — en route to a 50-yard gain that led to a 3-yard TD run by JT Murphy. The Sea Kings drew within, 42-27.
JSerra led, 21-13, after a mostly back and forth first half.
Fisher escaped several tacklers in the backfield to break a slick, 29-yard touchdown run with 2:01 left in the first quarter to give JSerra an early lead.
Corona del Mar tied the score, 7-7, on its next possession with an 18-yard touchdown strike by Espinoza to Humphreys with 29 seconds left in the opening quarter.
JSerra’s defense set up the Lions’ next score. Abdul-Malik McClain and Joey Philippi forced an intentional grounding that led to a punt from the Corona del Mar 1. JSerra capitalized on the short field and scored on fourth-and-goal on a 3-yard dive over the pile by Castillo.
Corona del Mar responded again. The Sea Kings drove 72 yards for a 5-yard TD run by Espinoza with 5:18 left in the half. The extra-point failed, leaving JSerra ahead, 14-13.
The Lions took lead for good on the ensuing possession as Robinson launched a deep pass that hit Munir McClain in stride for a 66-yard TD with 3:57 in the half.
JSerra recorded six sacks, including 1 1/2 by Abdul-Malik McClain. The Lions also held Corona del Mar to about 50 yards rushing