SAN CLEMENTE, CA – In a battle between two top 10 Southern Section teams, San Clemente survived a late push from visiting Edison to prevail 23-20. San Clemente snatched its 12th victory in a row, dating back to its impressive CIF State championship run in 2016.
“It’s a bitter moment right now because we really wanted to win this game, and we worked really hard in our bye week,” said Edison senior quarterback Griffin O'Connor.
Leading 17-13 moments into the fourth quarter, San Clemente put together a solid drive into Edison territory, but faced a crucial fourth-and-1 on the 28-yard line. Head coach Jaime Ortiz took the risk, and it paid off thanks to a two-yard run from running back Austin Whitsett.
The Edison defense responded well, however, and held the Tritons to a field goal, making it 20-13. With just under eight minutes remaining, Edison fumbled a punt return, and San Clemente capitalized. With their backs against the wall, Edison’s defense stepped up again and held San Clemente to another field goal, as Tristan Trager converted from 34-yards out.
Trailing 23-13 inside two minutes, Edison needed O’Connor to lead a quick scoring drive. O’Connor did just that, guiding his team down the field and scoring off a four-yard strike to David Moradian.
With 1:07 left in regulation, the Chargers gave themselves a shot, down just three points. San Clemente recovered an onside kick, but Edison’s defense gave the Chargers yet another key stop, and handed the ball back to O’Connor for one final shot. San Clemente ended all hope with a sack as time expired, sealing a three-point victory.
Whitsett led the way for San Clemente with 142 yards, while Costello contributed 121 yards through the air and two total scores.
“I go into every game looking to do my best, and tonight it was great to do it on such a big stage,” Whitsett said.
Trager added three field goals, cementing a solid all-around offensive performance for the Tritons.
Edison was down 17-6 at the half, but opened the third quarter with a bang, scoring on a 25-yard pass from O’Connor to David Atencio. Both teams got off to slow offensive starts, trading possessions for most of the first quarter. The Chargers struck first, scoring off a 28-yard field goal set up by a 28-yard Isaiah Palmer interception return.
Another Edison field goal made it 6-0, but San Clemente finally started to come alive. The Triton offense was jump-started off a combination of Costello throws and Whitsett carries, and a 10-yard Chase Berman touchdown reception gave them an early 7-6 lead.
Edison failed to respond, quickly turning the ball over on the ground. Deep in Charger territory, San Clemente stole momentum, as Costello took it himself and dashed past the pylon for a 13-yard score.
O’Connor, a Yale commit, finished with 210 yards and two scores for Edison.
“We have to punch it in when we get in the red zone," O'Connor said. "That was the difference in the game, and that’s my job as the quarterback, I can’t let that happen again.”
Atencio, Edison’s star receiver, was helped off the field twice, but caught a touchdown pass in the loss.
San Clemente improves to 6-0 overall, with a home conference game against Tesoro up next after its bye week. Edison falls to 3-2, and will travel back home to take on Huntington Beach Thursday.