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Taft Stops Comeback Just in Time


WOODLAND HILLS — Taft High dominated Garfield in the first half of a City Section 4-A Division football playoff opener Friday, scoring the game's first 28 points and making it look easy.

Who would have thought the Toreadors would end up hanging on for dear life?

As unlikely as it seemed, the Bulldogs held Taft scoreless in the second half, scored three touchdowns, recovered two late onside kicks, and came up just eight yards short of the end zone as time expired in the 34-27 thriller.

"We started slowly, but conditioning-wise, we knew that Taft had too many players going both ways," Garfield Coach John Aguirre said. "We felt the second half would be ours."

It was. Garfield (7-4) outscored the City's second-seeded team, 20-0, after halftime.

Twice in the fourth quarter, running back Edgar Soto caught a screen pass from quarterback Eddie Hermoso and weaved his way for scores.

The final touchdown, a 14-yard play, came with 33 seconds left. After recovering the onside kick--its second in a row--Garfield drew a pass-interference penalty on Taft and had the ball at the Toreador 23 with five seconds to play.

After a timeout, the Bulldogs opted to go with the screen to Soto one final time. He caught the ball and picked his way toward the goal line, but was tackled at the eight by Taft lineman Juan Madera.

Taft Coach Troy Starr appeared furious with his team after the game, ordering players straight to the locker room following the post-game handshake.

The poor second half overshadowed a brilliant first half, which saw Taft (10-1) score almost at will. Running back Jerry Brown, who finished with 266 yards in 19 carries, had touchdown runs of five, 22, and 86 yards. Quarterback Dayon Shaw threw two scoring passes.

Hermoso passed for 352 yards and three touchdowns for Garfield. Rudy Burruel had eight receptions for 179 yards.

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