It was a play Paul Hornung made famous when he played for Notre Dame and the Green Bay Packers. Westchester running back Jermaine Lewis ran a sweep right and threw a pass back to quarterback Seka Edwards, who raced down the left sideline for a 25-yard touchdown. Westchester went on to beat Venice, 38-27.
"That's the kind of play you expect from an athlete like Edwards," Venice co-coach Tony Chretin said. "You could see his body was parallel to the ground. What really surprised us is Lewis' throw between two defenders. It won the game."
The victory ended Venice's five-game winning streak and a chance to win the Western League title outright. It also answered questions about the character of the Westchester team.
"It reaffirmed our belief that we can win the big games," Comet Coach Larry Wein said. "I felt the Venice game gave us a big lift and momentum heading into the playoffs."
Although Edwards and Griffin figured in the big play, Westchester received contributions from two unexpected sources. Courtney Brown had three catches for 80 yards and recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown. Lance Quarles had four receptions for 42 yards, including three catches for first downs.
ONE MISTAKE TOO MANY
Chretin believes the Gondoliers would be celebrating a Western League championship this week if not for five turnovers in the loss to Westchester.
"We knew beforehand we had to avoid those mistakes," Chretin said. "We could overcome them against other teams. But against better ones, like Westchester, that wasn't the case."
With a victory against Manual Arts on Friday, Venice can become co-league champions. Robert Hayes, who injured his hand on the opening kickoff against Westchester but returned three plays later, is questionable for Friday's game.
St. Bernard did not have to wait long to score a touchdown against Bishop Montgomery on Friday. For the third time this season, Larry Stanback returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. This time Stanback ran 98 yards for the score as the Vikings scored six first-half touchdowns en route to a 42-7 win.
With the win, St. Bernard (3-1 in the Mission League) ensured a spot in the Division IV playoffs. The Vikings, however, need to beat Harvard-Westlake (0-4) to avoid playing a top-seeded team in the playoffs. Last season, St. Bernard entered the playoffs as a wild-card team and lost to top-seeded Rubidoux in the first round.
"It's tough duty trying to beat a first-place team," St. Bernard Coach Mike Noonan said. "We can't let up and stop playing hard because we are in the playoffs."
If St. Bernard should lose, the Vikings could end up part of a three-way tie for second with Bishop Montgomery and Chaminade, who would have to win their games.
Noonan, however, does not expect Bishop Montgomery to upset first-place Notre Dame.
"That would be the greatest upset in the history of high school football," Noonan said. "Bishop Montgomery is a sound little football team, but it does not match up well with Notre Dame."
Leading 14-13 against Serra, St. Monica had the ball on fourth down on the Cavaliers' three-yard line when the team was called for illegal procedure. Instead of attempting a field goal, Mariner Coach Norm Lacy elected to go for a touchdown on fourth and eight with 6 minutes 28 seconds left. Quarterback Oscar Casillas threw an incomplete pass to Steve Pulley.
Serra took over at the eight and drove to the Mariner 10, where Michael Wiley kicked a 27-yard field goal with 33 seconds left to give Serra a 16-14 win. It was Serra's first field goal.
"This was a great game to watch," Lacy said. "Unfortunately, we were on the downside of this one."
St. Monica has to beat Cantwell-Sacred Heart to guarantee a spot in the playoffs. If the Mariners lose and Serra wins, there will be a three-way tie for second with Verbum Dei. A coin flip would determine which two teams would qualify for the playoffs.
PLAYING FOR PRIDE
Beverly Hills hopes to make up for its dismal season with a win against rival Culver City today at Beverly Hills. The Normans are 2-7, 1-2 in the Ocean League. The Centaurs (6-3, 3-0) have clinched the league title.
Norman Coach Carter Paysinger, however, said records are unimportant when the two teams meet.
"Every year . . . this game is a battle," Paysinger said. "This game is for us. We want to make up for this season."
Receiver Taylor Humphries scored a touchdown for the second consecutive week in the Normans' 24-0 win over Morningside on Friday. Humphries has caught at least one touchdown pass in the six games he has played.
Sophomore Aaron Kogan had another impressive game, rushing for 135 yards and a touchdown in 25 carries.
UP TO THE TASK
A matchup to watch in the Culver City-Beverly Hills game will be 5-foot-8 Centaur Jahmal Wright, who was an all-league cornerback last year as a sophomore, defending 6-3 Norman receiver Taylor Humphries.