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Strong Second Half Lifts Kennedy Past Birmingham


GRANADA HILLS — With its confidence shaken following two consecutive one-point losses, Kennedy High placed added significance on its Northwest Valley Conference matchup with Birmingham on Friday night.

So much in fact, that Golden Cougar Coach Bob Francola was not sure how his team would handle another setback.

Fortunately, Francola did not have to find out.

Antwane Smith rushed for 196 yards and three touchdowns and Kennedy limited the Braves to 52 yards in the second half en route to a 35-21 victory.

"We really needed a victory from a confidence level," Francola said. "It doesn't matter if you lose by one or 100 points. The kids start thinking. And until you win, nobody knows."

Smith scored twice in the first quarter, including a 64-yard run which gave the Golden Cougars (3-3, 1-2) a 12-0 lead with four seconds left and finished the first half with 153 yards in 10 carries. "The line has done a great job for me all year," said Smith, who has 896 yards rushing this season. "They open the holes, all I do is run through."

Birmingham (3-3, 0-3) came back behind the running of senior tailback Courtney Blunt, who finished with 142 yards and three touchdowns in 22 carries. Blunt capped a 65-yard drive with a five-yard run to cut the lead to 12-7.

The Braves moved ahead, 14-12, after a Smith fumble on a 13-yard touchdown run by Blunt with 5 minutes 8 seconds left in the half.

But Kennedy responded with another score just before halftime on a nine-yard run by Damion Thompson to lead, 20-14.

The Golden Cougar defense took over in the second half, limiting the Braves to one first down in the third quarter.

Dan McMullen finished with 118 yards passing.

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