June 15, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Northwood gets back on track with non-league victory over University

Northwood junior Joseph Harper, who led the Timberwolves Friday night, has been playing with a soft cast. (Photos: Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone).

Northwood High School’s football team got back on track Friday night.

The Timberwolves snapped a two-game losing streak taking advantage of first half turnovers by University to defeat the Trojans 30-7 in a non-league game at Irvine Stadium.

Northwood (3-4) opens Pacific Coast League play Friday night vs. Portola at Irvine Stadium. University (3-4) starts play in the Pacific Hills League Friday vs. Beckman at Tustin.

Northwood has won two consecutive CIF titles but has struggled so far this season.

“We needed this one, it’s a different team, different year,” said Northwood Coach JC Clarke. “These kids have to win the games themselves, nobody from last year is coming back to help them win. We had a great run for two years and this is their team and they got a shot. In that first year, we lost four games in a row and won league and we got league coming up.”

To see additional photos, click on the first picture:

The Timberwolves are hoping Friday was the start of something big again.

“I think we lost two in a row and Uni is a familiar team we’ve been playing over the years, we just needed a big W and we came out to play and I’m just really proud of the job the guys did,” said junior Joseph Harper, who stood out on both sides of the ball playing with a soft cast to protect his fractured wrist.

“We knew we had to make a statement after the back to back losses. We got league next week, we need momentum and this is exactly the most perfect thing we could have done.”

Harper, who said he had 2 1/2 sacks playing defensive end, hauled in a 4-yard TD pass from quarterback Eddie Ma early in the fourth quarter to put the Timberwolves ahead 30-7. He had seven catches for 52 yards and was the inspiration leader for his team on the field.

The wrist injury did not slow down Harper and he said it didn’t affect his play.

“I fractured my wrist last year,” he said. “It never really healed so when I started playing again, I didn’t feel any pain but in week two or three I started to feel pain again. It’s the same one from last year.”

Clarke said Harper expects to have surgery in the off-season.

Northwood set the tempo early blocking a Uni punt on the Trojans first possession. Four plays later, Eddie Petrushin scored from 8 yards out on a run.

The Timberwolves held on the next series and moved ahead 13-0 on a 33-yard TD run by Lucas Trausch, who wound up rushing for a game high 108 yards on 14 carries.

Northwood got the ball back again on an interception by Tristan Tran and moved ahead 16-0 on a 35-yard field goal by Cole Hidalgo.

Ma then connected with Hidalgo on a 2-yard TD pass to put the Timberwolves ahead 23-0.

University gave its fans some hope when quarterback Koa Saito connected with Brooks Beckmann on a 72-yard TD pass to cut the lead to 23-7.

But the Northwood defense tightened in the second half.

Ma wound up with 52 yards passing and left the game before returning after one of the hits. Clarke said the offensive line didn’t provide him enough protection.

Clarke was pleased with the production of the Timberwolves’ running game though.

“That might be as much as we’ve had in the six games before, honestly,” he said.

Saito, the Uni, QB, passed for 105 yards but was intercepted three times. The Northwood defense was also tough against the run.

—Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com