It was an uphill battled all night for the Laguna Beach football team in its nonleague game Sept. 7 against University.
The Breakers dug themselves in an early hole in the first half, battled to get back into contention before finally taking the lead in the fourth quarter, only to give up a long scoring drive in the final minutes. Forty-eight minutes of football ended with Laguna and University playing to a 36-36 standstill.
The result left the Breakers at 1-0-1 overall. They played John Glenn in a nonleague game Thursday, but the score wasn't available at press time.
University is 0-2-1.
"I thought that from the opening kickoff on, anything that could go wrong, did go wrong," Laguna Coach Mike Churchill said. "University recovered the opening kickoff, we came back to go up eight in the fourth quarter, then Uni goes 80 yards there at the end to tie the score. We just didn't play very well, or coach well, in this game."
The game had several twists and turns that affected the Breakers. Center Warren Abbate broke his foot when it was stepped on during the Breakers' first series in the game. Senior standout player Robert Clemons didn't play in the second half because of cramping issues, Churchill said.
Laguna led, 10-7, after one quarter on the strength of a 19-yard touchdown run by Clemons and a 25-yard field goal by Robbie McInerny. University rebounded to score on two long touchdown runs (49, 64 yards), to go into a 21-10 lead, but Nathan Lancaster pulled the Breakers to within 21-17 on a 77-yard scoring run one play.
University scored once more before the half was up and took a 28-17 lead into intermission.
Less than two minutes into the second half, Drake Martinez scored on a 22-yard interception return to pull Laguna to within 28-23. The pick allowed the senior to establish the school record for career interception returns for touchdowns (three).
Early in the fourth quarter, Martinez scored on a 23 yard run to put the Breakers back in front, 29-28. On Laguna's next possession, Lancaster teamed with wide receiver Jake Hexburg on a 79-yard touchdown pass to give the Breakers their biggest lead at 36-28 with just 2:24 left.
On its final possession, University was able to cover 80 yards in the final two minutes, scoring on a one-yard run and a two-point pass to tie the score with 49 seconds left. The Trojans converted a fourth-and-15 play to keep the drive alive.
Lancaster led the Laguna run game with 127 yards on just 10 touches. The Breakers and Trojans combined to rush for 563 yards.
"I've been coaching for close to a century, and think this is only the second time that one of my teams has played to a tie," Churchill said jokingly, kidding only about the "century" part. "I think the lesson that we need to take from this is to play hard no matter the opponent. It's not a loss. We just need to bounce back and get back to winning."