June 15, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

PHOTOS: Irvine gets back on track with victory over Northwood on homecoming

Irvine quarterback Khoa Bui picks up yards as Northwood’s Tristan Tran (No. 5) and Cole Hidalgo defend. (Photos courtesy Mark Bausman, For OC Sports Zone).

Friday’s non-league football clash between city rivals Irvine and Northwood High’s football teams came at a pivotal time of the season.

Both teams had struggled of late. Irvine had lost its last two and Northwood three of four.

So both teams were motivated to notch a win and reset their seasons prior to beginning of league play in two weeks.  

Irvine quarterback Khoa Bui and running back Brandon Figueroa led the way as the Vaqueros dominated from the opening kickoff and delighted a homecoming crowd with a 42-13 victory.

To see the slide show, click on the first photo

The Vaqueros (4-2) took the opening kickoff and marched 14 plays, deep into Timberwolves territory but had to settle for a field goal and led 3-0.

On the first play following a Northwood punt, Figueroa broke a 43-yard run to the Northwood four-yard line. Two plays later, Katrell May scored on a 1-yard TD run to give the Vaqueros a 10-0 lead at the 3:59 mark of the opening quarter.

Moments later, after another Northwood three-and-out, Bui scrambled and completed a 68-yard TD pass to Deacon Moss, as the Vaqueros upped their lead to 18-0. 

“This is a huge win for us; we wanted to win the city bowl,” said Moss, who caught five passes for 145 yards and kicked two field goals. “This gives us momentum and a full head of steam to keep on rolling for league.”

Early in the second quarter, Bui lofted a perfectly placed 51-yard TD pass to Chase Russom as Irvine increased its lead to 25-0.

However, Irvine suffered a major setback midway through the second quarter. Bui was injured on a running play. He was helped off the field and did not return.

Bui remained on the Irvine training table and the entire Vaqueros team consoled him before leaving for halftime. Bui was then carted off the field at halftime but returned briefly to the sideline in the third quarter on crutches and with his left knee in a brace. He is expected to have a MRI on Saturday according to assistant coach Doug Moss. Sophomore Sina Saferzadeh replaced Bui.

Figueroa capped a 70-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown run as the Vaqueros took a commanding 32-0 lead at halftime. Irvine scored on five of its six first-half possessions and outgained Northwood 340-42 in the opening half.

“We needed this win to get back into our groove,” said Figueroa, who rushed for 147 yards on 18 carries and scored two touchdowns. “Our OLine, lined up and did what they always do. We brought the energy tonight and we have to keep rising up.”

Timberwolves quarterback Edward Ma tossed TD passes of nine and 40 yards to Joseph Harper in the third quarter, but Northwood (2-4) couldn’t draw any closer.

“We have a lot of guys injured, but my hat is off to Irvine, they played well,” said Northwood Coach JC Clarke. “I love our kids but we have to keep improving each week.”

In a quarter and a half Bui passed for 169 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 26 yards. Saferzadeh completed six passes for 91 yards and rushed for 40 yards.

“Khoa had a great game and we’re hoping to get Khoa back,” said Ricci. “We know Sina (Saferzadedh) can handle it; he’s a bulldog. We made up for our mistakes last week and our guys stepped up.”

Ma had 19 completions and passed for 197 yards, however he had numerous passes dropped. Harper caught seven passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns to lead Northwood.


—Tom Connolly, For OC Sports Zone