Whicker: Michael Pittman, Matt Fink show value of staying put at USC

LOS ANGELES — Michael Pittman could have been in an NFL meeting room Friday night. Matt Fink could have been at Illinois, a football-free zone, trying to figure how to survive Nebraska.

Pittman did not turn pro. Fink, contrary to reports, never transferred to Illinois. Other assumptions about USC, and the constantly-moving tectonic plates of its football program, will be proven or disproven in due time.

What happened Friday night was that Pittman had one of the best nights any receiver ever has had as a target for a third-string quarterback. The Trojans rode those two, plus a defense that bent, broke and reassembled itself, to a 30-23 win over 10th-ranked Utah and a 3-1 record with three different quarterbacks.

“We’re running out of them,” Pittman said, smiling. “But Matt did a great job. He loves to throw those fades.”

Fink and offensive coordinator Graham Harrell rejected the second rule of insanity: If something works, quit doing it.

Pittman, at 6-foot-4, was turning Utah cornerback Jaylon Johnson and his mates into spinning tops. Fink kept throwing drones in Pittman’s direction, and Pittman kept catching them, for 26, 33, 77 and 42 yards. He wound up with 232 yards on 10 catches. Both were career highs for Pittman, and only four USC receivers have gained more yards in a game. In all of 2018, Pittman caught 31 for 437.

Few blue-chip recruits go to college intending to become seniors, but that’s what Pittman is after he decided to avoid the NFL draft. Few quarterbacks expect to graduate from college before they get their first significant action and Fink, finding himself behind JT Daniels (now hurt) and Jack Sears (in the transfer portal), visited Illinois as a possible grad transfer.

But when Kedon Slovis was knocked incoherent on the second play of the game, Fink came in with a well-rested and hungry arm.

“I didn’t know what Matt was going to do, but I just supported him and told him to do what was best for him,” Pittman said.

“Check out those stats,” Fink said, referring to Pittman’s, although his own 351 yards on 21-for-30 passing stood up, too.

“The guy’s a monster. You can’t stop him, but I can say that about all our guys. We’ve got weapons stacked across the board and when they play like that, you can’t do anything about it.”

“If our guys get one-on-one opportunities, they’re going to win them,” Harrell said. “We’ve got eight of them that I feel great about, one-on-one. Michael Pittman at times wins two-on-one, as you saw tonight, so that really helps the cause.”

There was intrigue on both sides of the sideline.

Utah came in ranked No. 10 and was voted the preseason Pac-12 title favorite. It lost running back Zack Moss halfway through Friday’s game, but also committed seven holding penalties and 16 infractions overall, lost a fumble on the USC 2-yard line, had a field-goal attempt blocked and gave up a safety on Drake Jackson’s sack, shortly after USC punter Nick Griffiths jailed the Utes on their own 6-yard line. They weren’t very good, in other words.

But there was also the usual noise around the status of Coach Embattled Clay Helton (now his given name) and the presence of former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, working the game for Fox Sports.

Meyer won the 2014 national championship with Cardale Jones coming from deep off his Buckeyes bench, so he probably thought he saw a well-coached team Friday night.

Carol Folt, the new USC president, was here, too. She was inaugurated in the afternoon. Her comprehensive broom is supposed to sweep out Helton, especially after she hires an athletic director to replace the dismissed Lynn Swann.

But it’s worth noting that Folt comes here from North Carolina, where the previous football coach, Larry Fedora, was 5-18 the past two seasons, after losing bowl games in the previous three. So Folt probably did not think she was watching bad football here. How her North Carolina experience translates into her evaluation of USC basketball, we’ll have to see.

And there was the usual sky-is-falling posture from the fans after USC lost in overtime at Brigham Young.

“We don’t hear what the fans say that much, because they’re only with you when things are good,” Pittman said. “And that’s what a fan is. They’re not going to cheer on a team that goes 5-7. There’s no reason to.

“We wanted to win this game because it was one of our goals, like getting to the playoff, getting to the natty (championship game). We’re just checking off the boxes.”

As in the win over Stanford, USC’s defense swelled with each quarter, once it got a handle on stopping the slippery moves of quarterback Tyler Huntley. The Utes piled up the yards and snapped the ball 79 times to USC’s 54. But USC had enough gas to deny Utah touchdowns on four of six red-zone trips.

Utah was down 21-17 early in the fourth and had a third down on the USC 1-yard line. Isaiah Pola-Mao, who made the critical interception against Fresno State, sought out Huntley and dealt him a 6-yard loss, forcing a field goal that kept the Trojans ahead.

Then Griffiths pinned Utah back, and yet another holding penalty forced a second-and-10, which Jackson, the freshman from Centennial High of Corona, turned into a safety off “a rip move,” as he said. Huntley was called for intentional grounding on his way down.

“The sideline got super-excited when we saw that,” said Markese Stepp, the brutish runner who gets the call when the other defense is too tired to take him on. Stepp bulled his way on a 4-yard score that made it 30-20, after Fink, on third-and-8, speared Pittman for 42 yards.

The stairmaster gets steeper. The Trojans play at Washington next Saturday, and at Notre Dame two weeks later. Harrell’s Air Raid offense needs an offensive line that doesn’t make quarterbacks as disposable as blue razors.

The fourth-stringer is walk-on Brandon Perdue, although Pittman said he was “pretty sure” Slovis would be available next week.

But the Trojans can bask, temporarily, in the virtues of the green, green grass of home, and of the dubious nature of unnecessary change. We’ll see if anyone else agrees.

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Best of Orange County 2019: Best garden center/nursery

1. Green Thumb Nursery

23782 Bridger Road, Lake Forest; 949-837-3040; greenthumb.com

Strolling through the aisles at Green Thumb Nursery’s Lake Forest store can feel like a welcome escape, one filled with emerald leaves and fragrant blooms. For large-scale projects, the store’s landscape design service can be a decisive go-ahead.

Shoppers who meet the purchase minimum for the program can sit down with one of two designers: One employee has more than 30 years of experience in professional landscape design, and the other has over 10 years’ experience, according to James Parr, Green Thumb Nursery’s online marketing manager.

After one of the experts has created a design based on the customer’s goals, it’s time to look at plant options, Parr said. The company does not offer installation but provides referrals for landscape installers.

Green Thumb Nursery’s Lake Forest store, which is on a property of 5-plus acres, features a vast inventory of plants. There are roses, fruit trees — including many citrus varieties, peaches and plums — indoor houseplants, a water-wise section, pollinator-friendly plants, and more, according to Parr. The dog-friendly store also carries more than 40 soil options, along with other items, including patio furniture sets, fountains and organic pest-control products.

Green Thumb Nursery operates with a total of 225 employees, 60 of whom are based at the Lake Forest location, according to Parr. The company was established in 1946 in Canoga Park and has grown to five locations in Southern California.

2. Armstrong Garden Centers

Multiple locations; 626-914-1091; armstronggarden.com

The expertise at Armstrong Garden Centers extends beyond the company’s several locations in Orange County. One service that has become more popular is Armstrong’s garden consultation service, according to Desiree Heimann, vice president of marketing at Armstrong Garden Centers and Pike Nurseries, which is part of Armstrong.

“Whenever we have unusual weather, like all the rain we experienced this winter, gardens change, often leaving homeowners wondering what they need to do to keep their garden and lawn healthy,” she said.

A garden consultation brings an Armstrong expert on-site “to identify garden issues while answering all of the homeowner’s garden-related questions, including pruning tips and plant identification,” Heimann said.

Armstrong Garden Centers’ menu of home services also includes landscape design and installation, artificial grass installation, and more, according to the company’s website. Armstrong’s stores are dog friendly and regularly host classes. For DIY lawn and garden care, month-specific tips are available on the company’s website.

3. Roger’s Gardens

2301 San Joaquin Hills Road, Corona del Mar; 949-640-5800; rogersgardens.com

Plants and inspiration are nurtured side by side at Roger’s Gardens, and participation is welcome.

Visitors can learn about spaces as varied as a culinary garden, a California-friendly garden, a small-space patio garden and a modern garden, among other new display garden themes, said Nava Rezvan, director of marketing and public relations.

“Customers can see all the different styles that we have available and decide how they want to create that in their own garden,” Rezvan said. Even Fido can take part, as Roger’s Gardens is dog-friendly.

For extra gardening inspiration, there’s the annual California Friendly Garden Contest, which includes cash prizes and has been held for 11 years. The Roger’s Gardens contest usually starts in February and runs through June, Rezvan said.

Customers also can turn to the company for its expertise, from the Roger’s Gardens Floral Studio to in-home consultations to landscaping services.

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Best of Orange County 2019: Best home builder

1. Landsea Homes

660 Newport Center Drive, Suite 300, Newport Beach; 949-345-8080; landseahomes.com

Landsea Homes’ corporate headquarters is located in Newport Beach, with additional offices located in Arizona, Boston, and New York City, as well Irvine and San Ramon.  A subsidiary of the international company Landsea Green Group, Landsea builds a myriad of homes that range from suburban single-family detached and attached homes as well as urban mid-rise and high-rise homes. In addition, the business has also taken steps to develop planned communities throughout the United States.

With a commitment to sustainability, Landsea utilizes a more eco-friendly approach to home building.

“It is the defining characteristic of our parent company, which pioneered the use of environmentally conscious building materials and geothermal technology, high-performance windows, air and water filtration systems and other advancements that contribute to healthier and more enjoyable living,” the company’s website reads. “We have a deep respect for the shared environment of the communities we create, and it manifests itself in the meticulous thought we put into the balance of the inside and outside environments.”

Landsea Homes Sale Counselor offers financing services to assist homebuyers in finding the best loans possible. Through its pre-qualifying program, customers are able to connect with the company’s preferred lenders who are able to accommodate their needs and their budgets.

2. Lennar

Multiple locations; lennar.com

Currently the largest home construction and real estate company in the United States, Lennar’s roots trace back to Miami, Fla., in 1954. Today, the home builder operates as a conglomerate with a number of other home building companies that were acquired over Lennar’s 60+ years in business.

“We build homes in some of the most desirable cities in the nation and for all stages of your life: first home, move-up home, or a multigenerational home to accommodate your changing family needs,” Lennar’s website reads. “Our communities cater to all lifestyles and include urban, suburban, active adult and golf course living.”

Lennar is the owner and developer of numerous up-and-coming communities throughout Orange County, including Central Park West in Irvine, Loma Vista Townhomes in Yorba Linda, and Levity at Tustin Legacy.

3. William Lyon Homes

Multiple locations; lyonhomes.com

With office locations in Texas, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Nevada, as well as Northern and Southern California, it comes as no surprise that William Lyon Homes is one of the preferred options among residents of Orange County. What started as a family-owned company in 1954 by General William Lyon has manifested into a notable organization, recognized by more than six decades worth of dedication, leadership, and customer service.

“One thing that is important to us as a family and us as a company, is that we are building homes for people to live in and have their lives revolve around,” says executive chairman and chairman of the board, William H. Lyon.

Offering a variety of housing options including custom built structures and planned communities, this William Lyon continues to pride themselves on customer approval and creating a sense of loyalty with home-buyers.

 

 

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OCVarsity video: Bryce Young has career night as Mater Dei crushes St. Frances Academy


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See the highlights and postgame interviews from Mater Dei’s 34-18 victory over St. Frances Academy of Maryland on Saturday night in the Trinity League vs. The USA showcase at St. John Bosco High. Mater Dei quarterback Bryce Young was the star of the game with four rushing touchdowns. – Video by Jonathan Khamis for the Orange County Register.

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San Clemente stays unbeaten with victory over San Diego Lincoln


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SAN CLEMENTE – The high school football programs in San Diego are probably grateful that San Clemente plays in the CIF-Southern Section instead of San Diego.

San Clemente beat Lincoln of San Diego 29-0 Friday to begin the 2019 season with four consecutive wins against San Diego County opponents.

Lincoln (3-1) entered play with an undefeated record and ranked No. 3 in San Diego County, but was held to 152 total yards by the San Clemente defense.

“The entire week we talked about not giving up the big play, being disciplined and consistent,” San Clemente coach Jaime Ortiz said. “They (Lincoln) have some of the better players we’ve seen on film, and I thought we executed the game plan pretty well.”

San Clemente (4-0) used the running game on offense to control time of possession and set up big plays in the passing game. The Tritons rushed for 216 yards on 39 attempts and only passed the ball 18 times.

Ashton Whitsett and James Bohls rushed for 97 and 87 yards, respectively for the Tritons. Bohls rushed for a touchdown in the final minutes of the game and quarterback Nick Billoups rushed for 36 yards.

BYU commit Preston Rex had 60 yards on 5 receptions with 2 touchdowns for San Clemente in a 29-0 win over Lincoln of San Diego. @ocvarsity @Tritonfootball @OCRegSports @preston_rex1 @TotalBlueSports @CriddleBenjamin pic.twitter.com/YdHXDwsQ4F

— Michael Huntley (@mikehuntley63) September 14, 2019

Billoups, a transfer from St. Anthony High in Long Beach, and Drayton Joseph saw equal snaps Friday. Joseph completed six of 13 passes for 64 yards and a touchdown and Billoups completed three passes for 29 yards and a touchdown. Billoups also had a fumble recovery and an interception on defense.

“Usually when you have two quarterbacks rotate it gets kind of herky-jerky,” Ortiz said. “They support each other. When Nick does well, Drayton is the first to high-five him and vise versa. It’s a system that works for us.”

San Clemente scored late in the first quarter on an eight-yard screen pass to Preston Rex to give the Tritons a 7-0 lead. Rex, a BYU commit, caught five passes for 60 yards and a pair of touchdowns Friday.

Cole Thompson made field goals from 28 and 39 yards to put San Clemente ahead 13-0 entering halftime.

Midway through the third quarter, Billoups rolled to his right and found Rex in the endzone for a 17-yard touchdown to extend the San Clemente lead to 20-0.

The Tritons added to their lead in the fourth quarter when a long snap sailed over the Lincoln punter’s head into the back of the endzone for a safety. Bohls rushed for a touchdown in the last two minutes to put the Tritons ahead 29-0 for good.

San Clemente has two tough challenges against fellow public school powers Edison and Corona del Mar before beginning South Coast League play.

“To be 4-0 at this point against quality opponents, what more can you ask for?” Ortiz said. “We got a two game series that starts with Edison and I know Coach (Jeff) Grady does a good job with those guys.”

The Tritons will host Edison on Friday, Sept. 20 and travel to Corona del Mar the following week.

San Clemente beat Edison in 31-24 in 2018 to snap a four-game losing streak.

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Ahn, Sunny Hills finish strong, pull out win against Brea Olinda


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BREA — Sunny Hills put together an 80-yard, time-consuming scoring drive in the fourth quarter, capped by a 1-yard touchdown run from Jun Ahn with 3:04 left in the game, that lifted the Lancers a 17-10 victory over Brea Olinda in a nonleague game Friday at Brea Olinda High School.

Ahn had 12 carries and gained 42 yards on the 16-play drive, which took more than six minutes off the clock. He finished with 205 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries.

Sunny Hills (2-1) faced a fourth-and-6 from the Brea Olinda 26 and got a huge break when the Wildcats (2-1) were flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, which gave the Lancers a first and 10 from the 13.

Ahn took over from there, carrying the ball on the final five plays.

“A couple of plays worked well and they couldn’t stop it so we just kept running it,” Ahn said.

@ocvarsity Sunny Hills RB Jun Ahn, No.4 in the front row, poses with his offensive teammates, after scoring the game winning TD in the Lancers (2-1) 17-10 victory over Brea Olinda (2-1) on Friday. pic.twitter.com/UrruHNedrA

— Lou Ponsi (@L_Ponsi) September 14, 2019

The Wildcats started the ensuing drive from their 15 with one timeout and 3:12 remaining.

Linebacker Kevin Hu sacked Wildcat quarterback Justus Thongphrachanh for a 5-yard loss on first down and the sophomore quarterback threw an incomplete pass on second down.

Thongphrachanh, who completed seven of 11 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown, kept the drive alive with an 18-yard completion to Kyle O’Brien.

After an 8-yard loss and an incompletion, the Wildcats took their final timeout with 1:36 left.

Thongphrachanh threw incomplete on fourth-and-6 from the Wildcat 32, and the Lancers took over and ran out the clock.

Sunny Hills had scored a total of 90 points in their first two games coming into the contest and and the Wildcats scored 48 points in their two games.

But scoring didn’t come easy Friday.

On the first drive of the game, the Lancers drove from their 20 to the Wildcat 5 where they had a first and goal but were unable to score.

Brea Olinda punted on all three first half possessions, with the only points of the half coming on a 22-yard field goal from the Lancers’ freshman kicker Mathias Brown.

Thongphrachanh connected with Tyler Barron for a 35-yard touchdown on the first drive of the second half to give the Wildcats a 7-3 lead.

Quarterback Luke Duxbury threw a 19 yard touchdown pass to Vince Silva late in the third quarter to give the Lancers a 10-7 lead.

O’Brien nailed a 35-yard field goal to tie the score for Brea Olinda with just under 10 minutes left.

Ahn scored the game-winning touchdown on the Lancers’ next possession.

“I’m just proud of our kids just for a gritty win against a good football team,” Sunny Hills coach Peter Karavedas. “That team was in the CIF championship a year ago. We knew they were going to be disciplined. We knew they were going to be tough.”

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USC quotable: Players, coaches react to Kedon Slovis’ first start

Here are some of the noteworthy quotes from the press conferences following USC’s 45-20 win over No. 23 Stanford:

Head coach Clay Helton

If he imagined quarterback Kedon Slovis could have the kind of 377-yard, three-touchdown night he did against Stanford:

“We understood his talent and we understood the type of players our quarterbacks are. One thing, it’s not hard with [offensive coordinator Graham Harrell]. I said, ‘Graham, let’s cut it loose and let’s go have fun, let the kids have fun, and let’s play fast and play aggressive. Even though [Slovis] is young, we named him the No. 2 for a reason. Let’s go cut him loose.’ That’s not hard for Graham because he’s always looking to cut it loose and he did tonight. And that’s what he did, and it was fun to watch. I don’t know if I’ve had more fun in a game with a bunch of kids.”

If USC did anything different in practice because it was going to be Slovis’ first start:

“We had a great quarterback competition, and like Kedon said, don’t underestimate the value of a good spring competition, a fall competition. Basically, 45 practices, and the value of getting 30 reps last week in a game. It’s unbelievable when you have an Amon-Ra St. Brown and a Tyler Vaughns and a Michael Pittman and those guys around making plays. It all came together tonight, and credit to the quarterback for the amount of work he put in and the wideouts. We went in there saying, ‘He doesn’t have to be Superman, you do.’ And this man [St. Brown] was Superman tonight.”

On the offensive line’s play:

“Coming into the season, I thought they were our best-kept secret. I thought they were our most improved part of our offense. I’ve been waiting for those kids to grow up for three years. We signed them all together: Austin Jackson, Alijah Vera-Tucker, Brett Neilon, Andrew Vorhees and Jalen McKenzie and you throw in Drew Richmond as a senior transfer, and they’re just playing really mature right now. We saw a bunch of pressures. They kept the quarterback upright. The quarterback did a nice job of using his legs and creating things for us and not forcing things. They’re playing great ball right now. We’ll go as far as they take us.”

On how corner Olaijah Griffin performed:

“Olaijah played really good ball in the first game and was even better today. We really were nervous going into the game because of the size of their outside receivers, especially for the tight ends out there. And he played big. He played hard for us tonight.”

On how important it was for USC to hold Stanford to a field goal after the fumbled kickoff return:

“It really sparked us, because it was getting away in a hurry. Anytime we have a sudden change, we talk about how important it is defensively to force a kick, and they did. A touchdown there would have devastating. And then all of a sudden, and I really credit Graham, because as poised as everyone was, he might have been the most. He said, you know what, we’re going to drive this one down. He didn’t try to deviate from the game plan. He stuck right to it the whole night, even though we were down 17-3. And then we go right down and it’s a one-score game and you could just feel the emotion on the sideline, like, ‘Yeah, we got this.”

Quarterback Kedon Slovis

On his mindset 

On where his timing with the receivers came from:

“I still got a lot of reps in the spring and the fall. That’s a credit to [Helton and Harrell] for mixing it in with all the quarterbacks. JT [Daniels] got named starter a few weeks ago, but we still got a ton of reps with the ones. They [the USC receivers] make it so easy on us, too. There’s a large margin for error with these guys.”

On how he felt before his first start:

“Pretty good. It was nice to get in the last half of the other game. But again, with so much talent around me, for me it was kind of, ‘Don’t take away from these guys.’ Just get in their hands and let them do the work. I don’t have to do too much.

On the student section chanting his name:

“I didn’t hear them chant my name. That’s pretty cool, I guess.”

On leading the USC band after the win:

“That was pretty cool, a pretty cool experience, but I mean, I couldn’t do it without these guys.”

On how he assessed his own performance:

“It was pretty good, but at the same time, how good is it with these guys [the USC receivers]? I don’t think it shows how good I am but how good of a team we have behind me.”

On if he thought his long touchdown pass to St. Brown would be completed:

“I thought it would be complete because Amon-Ra was running under it, but I was worried he was going to get killed after it.”

On how he felt Friday night preparing for the game:

“I didn’t sleep very well last night. It was a long day today, too, but once I got out and changed into my warmup gear, it felt pretty good.”

Center Brett Neilon

On the offensive line’s play against Stanford:

“I thought we did a great job. We made a point all week, we had a rookie quarterback back there. We took this meeting very serious to protect him, run the ball, do whatever we had to do for him. I’m really proud of the guys up front. You can see that we’re starting to gel together pretty nicely.”

If he’s surprised at Slovis’ performance:

“I’m not surprised at all. I’ve watched the kid, I’ve gotten real close to the kid. I’m really proud of him. He’s a special talent. Everybody in the locker room believes in him, all the coaches, you can tell. So he’s a great kid, a great player, as you kids can see. Coach Harrell was like, ‘We’re going to run the same offense. We’re going to take the same shots. We’re going to do the same thing.’ Because that kid can ball. You guys saw it. He’s a special kid. He’s very poised. He got us all together, rallied us when things weren’t going that great in the first quarter. Very vocal, so I’m very proud of him.”

On what Slovis said when the team fell down 17-3:

“He called up the offense, he got us all to huddle up and he told us, ‘No matter what happens on the field, when the offense hits it we’re going to score and we’re going to do our thing.’ That was pretty impressive for a younger guy to do that, to get us all there and pump us up.”

On how Slovis was prior to the game:

“He’s a very poised kid. He was joking around, the usual Kedon. Doesn’t get too high, doesn’t get too low. Reminds me of the great quarterbacks I’ve been around. He’s pumping us up. He didn’t look nervous.”

On the run game against Stanford:

“I thought we did well in the run. We took some pressure off Kedon, ran the ball when we had to. Some of the outside zones and running the five-man box was a huge hit for us.”

Offensive coordinator Graham Harrell

On Slovis’ first start:

“That’s what I expected him to do. I told you since the beginning that he’s special. We have a lot of confidence in him. We put him in there and that’s what we expected him to do. He did his job and played well. We’re gonna run our offense and he’s gonna execute it. There’s gonna be plenty to improve on, I’m sure. We’ll go watch that and get better.”

If there was a moment early in the game that reinforced his belief in Slovis:

“He’s been good all week and pregame he was good. He had a good look in his eye and he went out there and executed. He played just like he’s practice since I’ve been here.”

On what he told Slovis after the game:

“Just that I’m proud of him. But most importantly, I told him he was going to go light it up and he went and lit it up. When he plays with that kind of confidence, that’s what I expect. But we got to prepare to do it again. This can’t just be a one-time deal. Like, you got to come back ready to work on it. That’s basically what I said: ‘Hey, I’m really proud of you, make sure you come back tomorrow ready to work again because we got a long season ahead of us.’ “

Wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown

On his long touchdown catch:

“It was a great throw. When I was running my route, I knew I had him beat from the start. When I looked up I saw the ball was kinda high. It kinda made me nervous because I knew it was going to give the safety time to come over. But it was perfect. Dropped right in my hands. Safety came over and hit me but I was able to make the catch.”

On what Slovis proved to the team against Stanford:

“We all knew Kedon was a great quarterback. We saw him in the spring and he looked great. He wasn’t a highly-touted recruit coming out of high school so we didn’t know much about him. But after the first day, we knew he could sling the ball. And going into spring and fall, it was a QB competition so we didn’t really have a starter named. So we were getting reps with all the quarterbacks. We didn’t care who was out there, as receivers we just went out there and catch the ball.”

On how good Slovis is:

“He’s a great quarterback, like I said. We knew when he came, the first day he was throwing the ball. We all knew what his potential was and he showed it tonight. We got out there and he didn’t look rattled at all. He rallied us up after each drive and said let’s go.”

Safety Talanoa Hufanga

On what changed on the defense to hold Stanford scoreless after its first four possessions:

“Coaches just preach, so now what? You just got to move on. Just got to battle through adversity and that’s what our team did today.”

Defensive line coach Chad Kauha’aha’a

On the depth the defensive line displayed against Stanford:

“That’s how it should be. We’re rotating, we’re playing defensive line by committee. So when the twos come in, they shouldn’t miss a beat in what they do.”

On Jay Tufele:

“Jay was Jay. He played sound assignment technique, snapped off the block violently, something we stressed, and there was a bunch of times that Jay was in the backfield.”

On the improvement after the first quarter:“We felt confident about the run game. So what we did at halftime was make a few adjustments in the pass rush. We told those guys, we turned them loose and said, ‘Hey, let’s go.’ “

Read more about USC quotable: Players, coaches react to Kedon Slovis’ first start This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed. OC Shredding Business

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Yorba Linda holds off Orange in double-overtime thriller


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YORBA LINDA — Yorba Linda received multiple scares from Orange on Thursday, but recovered in the end for a memorable victory that it hopes becomes formative.

Senior running back Keaton Haddad scored on an 18-yard touchdown run on the second play of the second overtime period and safety Miles Delarosa intercepted a fourth-down pass near his 10 on fourth down to seal a wild 34-27 victory for the host Mustangs.

No. 15 Yorba Linda (2-0) led 27-6 with just over six minutes left in the fourth before No. 18 Orange (1-1) scored three times in an amazing 1 1/2-minute stretch to tie the score at 27-27.

  • Yorba Linda’s Rhys Weingarten catches a first half interception in front of Orange’s Isacc Galvan during their non-league football game at Yorba Linda High in Yorba Linda on Thursday, September 5, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Yorba Linda’s Nick Magarian, top, and Luke Gigliotti tackle Orange quarterback Daylen Pedroza as he runs the ball during the first half of their non-league football game at Yorba Linda High in Yorba Linda on Thursday, September 5, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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  • Yorba Linda’s Rhys Weingarten tackles Orange’s Andrew Andrade during the first half of their non-league football game at Yorba Linda High in Yorba Linda on Thursday, September 5, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Yorba Linda running back Keaton Haddad is tackled by Orange’s Isaiah Adetoye during the first half of their non-league football game at Yorba Linda High in Yorba Linda on Thursday, September 5, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Yorba Linda’s Tyler Kovalcin hauls in a catch despite the defense of Orange’s Bryan Fausto in a non-league football game at Yorba Linda High in Yorba Linda on Thursday, September 5, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Yorba Linda quarterback Gio Micallef throws a pass under pressure from Orange’s Dylan Moses during the first half of their non-league football game at Yorba Linda High in Yorba Linda on Thursday, September 5, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Yorba Linda running back Keaton Haddad is tackled by Orange’s Isaiah Adetoye during the first half of their non-league football game at Yorba Linda High in Yorba Linda on Thursday, September 5, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Yorba Linda’s Rhys Weingarten catches a first half interception in front of Orange’s Isacc Galvan during their non-league football game at Yorba Linda High in Yorba Linda on Thursday, September 5, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Yorba Linda’s Carson Ochoa runs for a first half touchdown against Orange during their non-league football game at Yorba Linda High in Yorba Linda on Thursday, September 5, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Yorba Linda’s Nick Magarian trips up Orange’s Isacc Galvan during the first half of their non-league football game at Yorba Linda High in Yorba Linda on Thursday, September 5, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Orange’s Andrew Andrade scores a first half touchdown past the Yorba Linda defense during their non-league football game at Yorba Linda High in Yorba Linda on Thursday, September 5, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Orange’s Isacc Galvan leaps over Yorba Linda’s Dawson Kane during the first half of their non-league football game at Yorba Linda High in Yorba Linda on Thursday, September 5, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Orange’s Andrew Andrade runs the ball against Yorba Linda’s Rhys Weingarten during their non-league football game at Yorba Linda High in Yorba Linda on Thursday, September 5, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Orange quarterback Daylen Pedroza runs the ball against Yorba Linda during their non-league football game at Yorba Linda High in Yorba Linda on Thursday, September 5, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Yorba Linda head coach Jeff Bailey talks with quarterback Gio Micallef on the sidelines during their non-league football game against Orange High at Yorba Linda High in Yorba Linda on Thursday, September 5, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Orange head coach Robert Pedroza on the sidelines of their non-league football game against Yorba Linda at Yorba Linda High in Yorba Linda on Thursday, September 5, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Orange High cheerleaders entertain the crowd at Yorba Linda High in Yorba Linda on Thursday, September 5, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The Yorba Linda Color Guard waits for the start of the Mustangs’ non-league football game against Orange High at Yorba Linda High in Yorba Linda on Thursday, September 5, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Orange head coach Robert Pedroza on the sidelines of their non-league football game against Yorba Linda at Yorba Linda High in Yorba Linda on Thursday, September 5, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The Yorba Linda Mustangs makes its way through the crowd before their non-league football game against Orange High at Yorba Linda High in Yorba Linda on Thursday, September 5, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The Yorba Linda Band plays the National Anthem before the Mustangs’ non-league football game against Orange High at Yorba Linda High in Yorba Linda on Thursday, September 5, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The Orange High band plays in the stands at Yorba Linda High in Yorba Linda on Thursday, September 5, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Yorba Linda fans have fun in the stands during their non-league football game against Orange High at Yorba Linda High in Yorba Linda on Thursday, September 5, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Yorba Linda cheerleaders practice before the Mustangs’ non-league football game against Orange High at Yorba Linda High in Yorba Linda on Thursday, September 5, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Yorba Linda head coach Jeff Bailey on the sidelines during their non-league football game against Orange High at Yorba Linda High in Yorba Linda on Thursday, September 5, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The officiating crew listens to the National Anthem before a non-league football game between Yorba Linda and Orange High at Yorba Linda High in Yorba Linda on Thursday, September 5, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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The Panthers’ three touchdowns came on passes over the middle from quarterback Daylen Pedroza to versatile running back Isaac Galvan. The Division 10 Panthers also recovered two onside kicks against Yorba Linda, ranked third in Division 5.

“It’s sort of a relief (to win), but I’m not satisfied, my team is not satisfied,” said Haddad, who rushed for 180 yards and three TDs on a career-high 39 carries.

“Obviously, we have a lot of things we need to get better on, such as not playing down to another level when we’re up three touchdowns, and working together as a team and not getting penalties.”

Pedroza lofted a 46-yard touchdown pass to Galvan – lined up at slot receiver – with 4:15 left in the fourth quarter to cut Yorba Linda’s lead to 27-25. The junior quarterback then muscled in the 2-point conversion run to tie the score at 27.

Yorba Linda had a chance to regain the lead with 34 seconds left in the fourth but missed narrowly a 34-yard field goal attempt after two Orange timeouts and a low snap.

In the first overtime, Orange drove from Yorba Linda’s 25 to the 11 but its march ended with a sack by the Mustangs. Yorba Linda’s defense finished with seven sacks, including two by Tristen Cramer.

Yorba Linda then tried to win the game with a 21-yard field goal, but Orange blocked the attempt after a high snap.

The Mustangs claimed the victory in the second overtime, but Orange coach Robert Pedroza was proud of his team’s fourth-quarter surge. He called Yorba Linda the toughest opponent his team has faced in his five-year tenure.

“The way our kids battled and the resiliency they showed tonight, I’m proud,” the coach said. “Great football game.”

Galvan finished with 13 catches for 152 yards. He caught TDs of 27, 25 and 42 yards in the fourth quarter and finished with 50 yards rushing.

Daylen Pedroza passed 192 yards and rushed for 61.

Yorba Linda took a 14-6 lead at intermission after an interception in the end zone in the final seconds by senior Rhys Weingarten.

The leaping grab by the senior helped Yorba Linda escape a major jam in which it was penalized on three consecutive plays to move Orange to the Mustangs 4.

Weingarten’s interception also frustrated Orange in the red zone for the second time in the first half. The Panthers missed a 27-yard field goal.

They also lost a fumble on the opening kickoff. Yorba Linda capitalized with Haddad’s first TD run to open a 7-0 lead.

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Alexander: Dustin May’s education continues in Dodgers’ loss

  • Dodgers starting pitcher Dustin May throws to the plate during the first inning of Monday’s game against the Padres in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

  • Dodgers starting pitcher Dustin May relaxes between innings during a game against the Blue Jays last week at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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  • Dodgers starting pitcher Dustin May looks toward home plate before throwing a pitch during the first inning of Monday’s game against the Padres in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

  • Dodgers starting pitcher Dustin May prepares to throw to the plate during the first inning of Monday’s game against the Padres in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

  • Dodgers starting pitcher Dustin May throws to the plate during the first inning of Monday’s game against the Padres in San Diego. The team hasn’t decided yet if May would make a greater contribution as a starter or as a reliever the rest of the season, but his talent and poise suggest he could be on their postseason roster in some capacity. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • Dodgers starting pitcher Dustin May bobbles a ground ball before throwing out the Padres’ Josh Naylor at first base during the fourth inning of Monday’s game in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

  • Dodgers starting pitcher Dustin May bobbles a ground ball before throwing out the Padres’ Josh Naylor at first base during the fourth inning of Monday’s game in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

  • Dodgers starting pitcher Dustin May sits in the dugout between innings of a game against the Cardinals earlier this month at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

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SAN DIEGO — Dustin May will get at least one more start for the Dodgers, as Dave Roberts continues to ponder what to do with him down the stretch.

As another in a series of auditions, May’s start Monday night in a 4-3 loss to the Padres suggested he might deserve more. (Maybe even an apology from A.J. Pollock, but we’ll get to that.)

Right now, the string-bean right-hander with the curly ginger hair is the Dodger pitching staff’s X-factor. Roberts hasn’t yet decided if he would make a greater contribution as a starter or as a reliever. But May’s stuff and his poise suggest that, at just under 22 years old and with five major league games under his belt, there could very well be a place for him in the postseason.

If there were justice, he could have pitched six innings Monday night and left with a 5-1 or 6-1 lead. But his teammates have again fallen into a funk with runners in scoring position, leaving the bases loaded twice in the early innings and going 1 for 10 in RISP situations. And Pollock’s inexplicable throw from center field into the visitors’ dugout scored the tying run and moved the winning run to third, and what had been a 3-1 lead turned into a loss that dropped May’s record to 1-3 as a big leaguer.

Naturally, May blamed himself for not backing up third base, even though it was an ill-advised throw and third baseman Justin Turner probably shouldn’t have let it slip through him.

“I gotta be behind third base to back that ball up,” May said. “There’s no excuse. I gotta be there.”

It is what the smart rookie does, take responsibility.

He is not the finished product yet, to be certain. But in his five major league outings he has demonstrated growth and he has shown poise and maturity.

“For a 21-year-old, (his poise is) off the charts; it really is,” Roberts said. “And he’s a tremendous competitor. He expects a lot from himself, and today showed it. I know he was frustrated by the result … but overall he threw 81 pitches, and I think that a large majority of those pitches were quality pitches.”

He got squeezed occasionally by plate umpire Rob Drake’s Incredible Floating Strike Zone, but he certainly wasn’t alone. Both sides had plenty to complain about, and in fact, Turner had some choice words as Drake left the field after ringing him up to end the game.

“I thought the pitch execution was pretty good,” May said. “I left a curveball up to Austin (Allen, pinch hitter) in the sixth inning and he hit it pretty hard, but other than that I thought I threw the ball pretty decent.”

Allen’s double to right-center started the Padres’ three-run rally in the sixth, though one of those runs was earned. He probably had an advantage, having seen May in the minors.

“I went up there with a little bit of confidence just from facing Dustin through the low levels of the minors and even in Double-A a little bit,” Allen said. “I haven’t faced him this year, but I’ve got a pretty good feel in like where his release point is and all that stuff.

“I’ve faced him so many times throughout the minors and he’s got such good stuff, don’t get me wrong. But after seeing guys again and again and again, I’m going to take my chances, no matter how good they are, because I know how their stuff is moving, and all the little things that go into it.”

That sort of turns the whole “third time through the order” concept on its head. The guy who hit him hardest in that inning hadn’t seen him at all Monday night and was going on what he’d seen in Double-A in 2018.

We already know this about May: He will work fast, he will keep the ball down, and he will induce soft contact. He is not yet getting hitters to swing and miss; in his four previous outings hitters had swung and missed on 9.7 percent of his pitches, according to Fangraphs; the rest of the Dodgers rotation is around 11 to 13 percent.

Monday night he had eight swings and misses in 81 pitches: four on the two-seam fastball, two on the cutter, one each on the curve and slider. The two-seam was topping out at 97 mph early and was around 95 in the later innings.

Roberts said before the game he feels the swings and misses will come as “a byproduct of execution and sequencing. When he can locate the fastball, get ahead and sequence appropriately, the stuff is there to get the swing and miss.”

In what areas does May feel he’s improved since he was called up and made his first start against the Padres on Aug. 2 in L.A.?

“I feel like my misses are closer,” he said. “I feel like I’m more around the zone. The execution of pitches is, I feel, getting better.”

The Dodgers will utilize a six-man rotation for the next week, at least, for rest purposes, so May’s next start would be Sunday in Arizona. After that? Things are fluid.

“I just gotta be ready for anything,” May said. “I have to be compatible with what’s going on. I’m excited to be here, and I’m really excited to do whatever they need me to do. I’m ready for it.”

Left unsaid: All of this is expected to reach a crescendo in October, which has become the only month that truly matters for the Dodgers and their fan base.

Will the kid be ready? We’ll be searching for clues over the next five weeks.

jalexander@scng.com

@Jim_Alexander on Twitter

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Rossi, Blessing help LAFC beat Revolution

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Diego Rossi and Latif Blessing scored, Jordan Harvey had two assists and Los Angeles FC beat New England 2-0 on Saturday night to snap the Revolution’s 11-game unbeaten streak.

MLS-leading LAFC (16-3-4) has won five of its last six games.

Harvey’s long arcing pass led Rossi to the corner of the area where he chipped a soft floater over the head of goalkeeper Matt Turner into the side net in the eighth minute.

Harvey first-timed a low cross to Blessing, who patiently cut back to evade a defender before beating Turner from the top of the 6-yard box to cap the scoring in the 72nd.

Tyler Miller had one save in his seventh shutout of the season for LAFC, which outshot the Revolution 22-10.

New England (9-9-6) had won three in a row.

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