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Hurns Comes to Taft's Defense

Northwest Valley: Injured running back returns at cornerback and recovers fumble in final minutes to secure a 36-29 victory over Kennedy.

November 02, 1996|MICHAEL LAZARUS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WOODLAND HILLS — Two weeks removed from a knee injury that seemed to jeopardize his season, Taft High's Sedric Hurns was fortunate to play against Kennedy High Friday night.

Hurns, the Toreadors' leading rusher, played with a knee brace and was limited to defense. He only touched the ball twice, once on a meaningless kickoff return. However, the second made all the difference in a 36-29 victory over the Golden Cougars in a Northwest Valley Conference game at Taft.

Hurns recovered a fumble by Waking Bailey at the Taft 38-yard line with less than four minutes remaining to thwart Kennedy's final comeback attempt.

"We had to hit him hard," Hurns said. "We did, and the ball got out. Then I just had to fight for it."

Barring a surprising upset in the final two games, the victory gives Taft (8-0, 5-0 in conference play) the Northwest Valley title.

The Golden Cougars rallied after losing senior tailback Jaret Harris in the second quarter.

Harris, a 5-foot-7, 138-pound senior, passed the 1,000-yard mark but broke a bone in his right leg when he was tackled on a 19-yard pass play from Calvin Zinck.

The game was delayed 20 minutes before Harris was sent to Encino-Tarzana Regional Medical Center.

After falling behind, 26-6, shortly after the injury, Kennedy turned to Zinck and 5-7 receiver Aaron Lewis.

Zinck completed 21 of 31 passes for 351 yards. Lewis caught 12 passes for 206 yards, including a 53-yard touchdown to get Kennedy (5-3, 4-1) to within 26-13.

Taft added a 23-yard field goal by Jaime Mena and an 18-yard pass from Nick DiPadova to Damon Coleman to extend the lead to 36-13 midway through the third quarter.

But the Golden Cougars came back with a 55-yard touchdown pass play from Zinck to Juan Campuzano.

Kennedy finally shut down the Toreadors. DiPadova completed 12 of 21 passes for 253 yards, but only six yards in the fourth quarter.

After forcing a punt, Kennedy drove 76 yards in six plays, culminating in a 10-yard run by Bailey, cutting the score to 36-26. But tight end Byron Williams dropped a pass for the two-point conversion.

DiPadova ran 60 yards for a touchdown on a third-and-one sneak late in the third quarter, but offsetting penalties nullified the touchdown.

Ramiro Esqueda kicked a 29-yard field goal for the final points.

Marquis Brignac had 174 yards in 24 carries for Taft.

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