He could have had minus-two yards, he'll tell you, and the night would still be a success . . . and long as a victory accompanied it.
With an inspired performance that Christian tried a dozen ways to stop, but failed in an equal number of ways, Rashaan Salaam led La Jolla Country Day to a 16-13 upset victory Saturday night over Christian in a nonleague game at Granite Hills.
Salaam, known for running over, through and around opponents, made the defensive play of the night, and perhaps of the season.
Christian, trailing 16-13 with 33 seconds remaining, had a second and goal on the Torres' one-yard line. Salaam, a 6-foot-2 senior who gets rave reviews as a running back, put a hit on Christian quarterback Andy Herbert that sent Herbert somersaulting like a gymnast and stopped him on the one-yard line.
"I was trying to punish him," Salaam said. "I didn't want him to make it over."
It wasn't clear at first who had made the bruising tackle, but when asked about it, LJCD Coach Rick Woods said, "Rashaan is the only one who could get over there that fast."
Justin Demaree, an all-purpose player for the Patriots, took over for Herbert with 19 seconds left, intentionally grounded the ball, and Christian faced fourth and goal on the 16. Herbert came back into the game and couldn't get the fourth-down pass off.
"Christian's a tough team," Salaam said. "But tonight, we played as a team, as a family, as brothers."
LJCD (4-0) jumped to a 9-7 halftime lead off a second-quarter safety and 10-yard touchdown pass from Daniel Sparline to Garon Schultz.
Christian scored its only first-half touchdown on a nine-yard pass from Herbert to Greg Giles. But the Patriots (4-1) took a 13-9 lead with 1:14 left in the third quarter when Herbert dived in from the two. The point-after attempt failed.
Salaam, who gained 108 yards on 24 carries, scored the winning touchdown with 3:44 left, on a six-yard run toward the sideline.
All week, LJCD was a little worried about this game. After all, it was only scheduled after Midway Baptist's football program folded and Christian had a date available.
Woods had a feeling that the team's with the highest scoring averages in the country would end up playing a defensive game.
"I knew that's what it would come down to," he said. "This is a big game for us, right here."