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By Jim Shilander
Newport Harbor took advantage of Tritons mistakes Friday at Thalassa Stadium, returning two interceptions for touchdowns in a 34-13 victory over San Clemente.
Surprise Tritons (2-3) starting quarterback Cole Fotheringham looked alternately promising and like a young sophomore. Fotheringham was 15-30 for 125 yards and two touchdowns, but threw four interceptions, including the two returned for touchdowns by Newport Harbor (2-2) senior defensive back Quest Truxton. Senior Loren Applegate replaced Fotheringham on the Tritons’ last series.
The Sailors opened the scoring on their first drive of the game, as Truxton took a Cole Norris pass and just reached over the pylon to score from 24 yards. After a Tritons punt pinned them at their own five-yard line, Newport Harbor used hard running and a few pass plays to move the ball to the Tritons three, where Chance Siemonsma took the ball in to make it 14-0.
The Tritons offense improved on its next drive, as Fotheringham hit Jason Wright and Collin Zines for first downs on the drive, to go along with several good runs by sophomore Vlad Dzhabiyev. However, following a sack on second down, an apparent mix-up on a route led to an interception by Truxton that was returned for a score.
San Clemente managed to pick itself up, however, as Dzhabiyev, Fotheringham and Wright managed to move the ball down inside the Sailor’s five-yard line before the close of the half. On third and goal from the one, Fotherington found Cole Harlow in the end zone, and San Clemente closed the score to 21-7 just before half.
The teams exchanged short drives and punts in the third quarter, until a Sailor drive moved the ball inside the Tritons red zone, ultimately leading to a 26-yard field goal at the start of the fourth quarter. Following a roughing the punter penalty, San Clemente used a second life to move down field, as Fotheringham hit three different receivers, including junior Jake Russell twice, the second for a 12-yard touchdown pass. The point after attempt was blocked, however.
The next Sailors drive saw a more than 70-yard run wiped out by penalty, and the Sailors only managed to run a minute from the clock, potentially giving San Clemente new life. However, an interception on the drive’s second play led to a time consuming Newport drive that led to a field goal and a 27-13 lead. Any hope of a comeback was squelched on the second play of the Tritons ensuing drive, when Truxton returned his second interception of the day for a score, this time from 40 yards out.
Wright led the Tritons with six catches for 59 yards. Dzhabiyev rushed 13 times for 50 yards.
San Clemente has lost three in a row and will travel to play defending CIF-SS Southwest Division champion Edison on October 4.