In a span of nine offensive plays, everything fell apart for Newport Harbor High. Coach Jeff Brinkley saw two players jump early, then one slipped and fell on his butt during a pass, another dropped a pass that hit him in the numbers, and the last player fumbled the ball.
All of the gaffes cost the Sailors any chance of coming back late on Friday night.
The Sailors' bid to win consecutive games for the first time this season ended with a 33-21 setback to Manhattan Beach Mira Costa.
"You can't make those mistakes," said Brinkley, whose team was in position to rally for a victory at home for the second time in four weeks.
The game-winning drive never materialized for the hosts at Davidson Field. The visitors came out on top after they recovered a fumbled snap on the Sailors' 42 with 1 minute, 38 seconds left.
Before Mira Costa (3-2) ran a play, it called a timeout. The team logged many miles during nonleague action, playing four games on the road. They went to Sherman Oaks one week, Downey the next, then back to the San Fernando Valley, before going down the coast in Newport Beach.
The Mustangs' latest road trip ended with tailback Sebastian Franck-Love flooring the gas pedal. The senior broke a 42-yard touchdown run, sealing the game for Mira Costa.
The run gave Franck-Love his third rushing touchdown and 213 yards. His final two carries produced touchdowns. The score Coach Don Morrow said he was most proud of was the one that put Mira Costa ahead for the first time.
With less than 4 minutes to go, and Mira Costa trailing 21-20, the Mustangs went to Franck-Love on a fourth-and-goal play on the one. He punched it in from the left side to give his team a 26-21 lead.
"You're kind of dancing a little bit, hit the darn thing," Morrow said he told Franck-Love at halftime. "[He] couldn't dance on [that one-yard run]."
The go-ahead scoring drive lasted a little more than seven minutes. Mira Costa went 88 yards on 14 plays. The Sailors failed to stop Franck-Love, who recorded 136 rushing yards in the second half, and the other three players who carried the ball on the drive.
At the end of the evening, running backs Brandon Mills and Tre Searcy, and quarterback Greg Briskin proved to be too much for Newport Harbor.
"We didn't stop the run all night," said Brinkley, whose defense let Mills rush seven times for 75 yards and a touchdown, Searcy four times for 59 yards and a touchdown and Briskin eight times for 40 yards.
"They're physical upfront. We have a lot of guys that haven't had much experience playing [linebacker], you know, but you've got to give them credit. They blocked well and their kids ran hard."
Brinkley said Newport Harbor played without two starting linebackers, Riley Gaddis (ankle) and Keaton Cablay (concussion). He hopes the two juniors, along with offensive lineman TJ Tarazevits (foot), can return for the start of Sunset League next week.
The Sailors almost went into their league opener with some momentum. They will try to get back on track at home against Los Alamitos, a program they have done well against since rejoining the league seven years ago.
With the help of quarterback Cole Norris and wide receiver Quest Truxton, the Sailors rallied to beat Los Alamitos, 31-28, in overtime last year. They have beaten the Griffins in five of the last seven matchups. Five of those contests have been tight, decided by a combined 13 points.
They are both in the CIF Southern Section Southwest Division poll rankings, Los Alamitos (5-0) is No. 3 and Newport Harbor (2-3) is No. 9. The upcoming meeting figures to be another nail biter.
The nonleague game against Mira Costa proved to be a battle for Newport Harbor, one it let slip away late.