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Oilers strong in opener

High School Football

Huntington Beach holds off El Toro and earns 23-21 victory.

September 03, 2011|By Mike Sciacca, michael.sciacca@latimes.com

Huntington Beach coach Eric Lo said during preseason camp that the first three games of the season would tell him a lot about his 2011 football team.

Games against El Toro, Corona del Mar and Foothill, two of whom were the Oilers' rivals when they belonged to the Sea View League two years ago, figured to test Huntington right out of the gate.

Lo did learn something Friday at Cap Sheue Field: his team can win the close one.

Huntington never trailed against El Toro but the Oilers had to withstand a barrage of passes - 55 of them - from Chargers quarterback Conner Manning, and a late comeback attempt, to post a 23-21 season-opening victory.

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"It's the first game of the season and it was sloppy at times and we made some mistakes," Lo said. "But, we won a game against a very good team that I think will win the Sea View League, and getting a win is the bottom line.

"I thought we made some key plays when we needed to and that allowed us to take the lead in the second half and were able to hang on."

The turning point in the game came midway in the third quarter with the teams deadlocked at 14-14. On second down from his own seven, Manning went back to pass from his own end zone where he was drilled by Huntington's John Vis for a safety. The play gave the Oilers a 16-14 lead with 5:31 left in the quarter.

Four minutes later, Huntington went up 23-14 when Nolan Biegel scored on a bullish, 36-yard run.

It was Biegel's first carry of the game.

"He's a freaking man out there," Lo said of Biegel. "He gave a phenomenal effort. He plays defense and some at tight end, too, and he gave us that big run to help us establish the lead. He played a great game."

El Toro mounted a short, 37-yard drive early in the fourth quarter, to get back in the game. Running back Jacob Furnari appeared to be stopped at the line of scrimmage at the 25 but the 5-foot-9 junior bounced off the line and went around left end. When he was through, his tackle-breaking touchdown run pulled the Chargers to within 23-21 with 8:11 left to play.

The Chargers had the ball near midfield late in the game but on fourth-and-one from the Huntington 49, Biegel led an Oilers charge that stuffed Furnari for no gain. Huntington took over with 3:04 left and managed to keep possession until punting away with 43 seconds to play.

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