COSTA MESA – Orange Lutheran quarterback Ryan Helinski put on an aerial show as the Lancers’ big second half propelled them to 41-28 victory over Norco on Friday evening in a nonleague game at Orange Coast College.
Hilinski, a junior, completed 29 of 37 passes for 421 yards and 3 TDs as the No. 12 Lancers improved to 4-0. Hilinski, the leading passer in the county, has thrown for 1,642 yards this season.
“We kept battling, even when we were down,” said Hilinki. “Our offense kept our minds straight and the defense got a number three-an-outs and that made the difference.”
After Nick Lasher tossed a 39-TD strike to Travis Dye early in the third quarter, the game was tied at 21.
Hilinski then guided OLu to three straight scores to secure the win.
Travis Laguisan 1-yard touchdown run capped a 15-play drive giving OLu a 27-21 lead.
Reggie Strong scored on a 27-yard run on the second play of the fourth quarter to up the Lancers lead to 34-21 and Hilinski added a 9-yard TD pass to Kyle Ford to secure the win.
“These guys are playing with confidence,” said first year Lancers coach JP Presley. “They’ve bought in and they are playing with synergy. We’re young and we have to cut down on mistakes but these guys are studying the game. It was sloppy tonight but we’re 4-0.”
After floundering a bit in the first quarter, the Lancers offense got on track quickly in the second quarter as OLu struck twice early to take a 14-7 lead.
Hilinski pinpointed a 42-yard TD pass to Logan Loya to tie game at 7. The pair hooked up again 1:27 later, two plays following a Cougars turnover, on a 48-yard pass play to make it 14-7.
Hilinski led the Lancers on a 14-play, 73-yard drive that culminated with a 1-yard Strong TD run giving OLu a 21-7 lead with less than 3 minutes to play in the half.
Norco’s linebacker Randall Turner recovered an OLu fumble and returned to the Lancers 3 with 12 seconds left in the half. Two plays later, Lasher’s followed with a five-yard TD run on the final play of the half to cut the lead o 21-14.
Dye retuned from an ankle injury this week and rushed for 147 yards and a TD. Lasher added 2 TD passes for the Cougars (0-3).
“These games are about preparing us for the playoffs,” said Norco coach Chuck Chastain. “We have to cut down on turnovers, execute and put it all together. We have to do whatever it takes to get it done.”