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As Dana Hills gathered in its end zone after dropping its home opener on Friday night, Aug. 25, Dolphins coach Tony Henney told his understandably dejected group, “The sadness in my heart is only because we played a winning effort, just didn’t get the ‘W’”
Dana Hills put up a scrappy defensive front to stay within a score of visiting Laguna Beach into the fourth quarter, but ultimately, the Dolphins couldn’t muster up enough offense to overcome the Breakers in a 24-10 defeat at Dana Hills High School.
“It’s not an excuse. They’re a good team,” Henney said of Laguna Beach. “We came in with two offensive line starters down, we lose the quarterback at the half, and I’m just really proud of the kids. I thought we really battled. There was a lot of opportunities to go quietly into the night, but we didn’t.”
Dana Hills (1-1) stays at home next week to host Long Beach Wilson, which dropped its season-opener on Friday night at Redondo Union, 35-0.
The Dolphins won their opener last week on the strength of their passing defense with five interceptions against University, and that same defensive air coverage was showcased on Friday. Laguna Beach boasted three-star junior quarterback Jackson Kollock, who has seven NCAA Division 1 offers, and BYU-committed tight end Ryner Swanson, but Dana Hills mostly kept that group grounded.
“I think we’re really getting to the ball,” Henney said. “We’re playing assignment defense, and I think we’re pretty physical right now.”
Kollock completed 10 of 23 passes for 138 yards and one first-half touchdown, and the junior only completed two passes in the second half. Swanson caught just three passes, but his one second-half catch was a 49-yarder that set up Laguna Beach’s go-ahead score.
Where Laguna Beach did its damage was on the ground and controlling the time of possession to limit Dana Hills’ comeback opportunities. The Breakers got over 100 yards on 15 carries with two touchdowns from senior Nick Rogers, and Kollock carried the ball 14 times for 67 yards.
Laguna Beach was up 10-0 after the first quarter on an opening-drive field goal, and Kollock’s lone touchdown pass, a 28-yard strike to Charlie Hunt.
While the Dana Hills defense kept the Breakers within arm’s reach, the Dolphins offense continued its early season struggles.
Dana Hills was stopped on a fourth-down goal-line stand in the second quarter and got its only points of the half thanks to field position from an ensuing fumble recovery by Mitchell Hill. Deacon Hill knocked in a 38-yard field goal to get Dana Hills on the board, 10-3.
Dolphins starting quarterback Myles Van Wyhe came out at halftime after entering the concussion protocol, which opened the door for the first varsity snaps for sophomore Jace Lowe. Van Wyhe completed 3 of 13 passes for 39 yards in the first half.
After tossing an interception on his first series, Lowe found his moxie midway through the third quarter.
Lowe completed a fourth-down conversion strike to Noah Kucera, and the sophomore completed two third-down conversions on the drive, including a 12-yard touchdown pass to Noah Brown to tie the game, 10-10.
Lowe finished the game 11-for-23 passing for 109 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
“I thought he played really tough,” Henney said of Lowe. “He took some shots, man, but he just kept getting back up. His game is a little bit different than Myles’. He was prepared, and he did his best.”
However, for as long as it took for Dana Hills to grind its way back into the game, Laguna Beach went back ahead just as quickly with a four-play drive, including the 49-yard catch-and-run from Kollock to Swanson and a two-yard touchdown plunge by Rogers. Less than two minutes after Dana Hills tied the game, the Breakers were back ahead, 17-10.
Dana Hills got a gift on the ensuing drive, as Laguna Beach muffed a punt and Charlie Eckl pounced on the loose ball for Dana Hills at the Breakers’ 27-yard line, but the Dolphins were stalled for a 38-yard field goal attempt, which was not converted.
The Dolphins defense kept Laguna Beach at bay, but following a turnover-on-downs by Dana Hills, Laguna Beach pushed its way downfield. Rogers scored on a rugby scrum to the endzone to put the Breakers up by two touchdowns and effectively shut the door on the Dolphins.