Granada Hills quarterback Jeremy Leach went into Friday night's game against San Fernando ranked No. 5 among quarterbacks in the City Section.
Leach's powerful right arm figured to play an important role in the Valley 4-A League game at Granada Hills. But Leach, who had thrown for 923 yards and 10 touchdowns going into the contest, was humbled by a San Fernando defense that limited the 6-2, 200-pound junior to just 4 completions in 17 attempts for 28 yards.
Leach still played a prominent role in the outcome of the game though, with a four-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown run that sealed a 10-3 win for Granada Hills (7-0-1, 2-0-1).
"Nothing was working the way it usually does," Leach said. "I was happy I was able to carry the ball in for the touchdown. When the play came in from the sidelines, it was kind of fuzzy."
Both teams were having a difficult time focusing on the end zone because of some extraordinary defense on both sides.
San Fernando (2-6, 1-2) was able to stay in the game largely because of its defense, which blocked a punt, a field goal and intercepted Leach once. The Tigers held Granada Hills running back Khalid Ali--who came into the game averaging 7.5 yards a carry--to just 25 yards in the first half.
But Ali provided the big runs in the second half and set up the winning touchdown after the Granada Hills defense stopped San Fernando on a fourth-and-one situation on the Granada Hills 30.
The game was tied, 3-3, when the Highlanders, The Times' fifth-ranked team in the Valley, took possession and began the game-winning drive.
Ali ran 26 yards on a draw play. Two plays later he carried for 17 yards on another draw that got the Highlanders to the San Fernando 15. Four plays later, Leach faked a handoff up the middle to Jamaal Farmer and ran around right end for the touchdown.
"The draw is always a big play for me," said Ali, who finished with 125 yards on 17 carries. "Those are the kinds of plays I've gone over a thousand times in my mind. The kind I used to practice when I was kid jumping over the couch at home."