GRANADA HILLS — The Granada Hills High football team knew its mettle was eventually going to be tested as the Highlanders worked their way through the Northwest Valley Conference.
How would Granada Hills--undefeated through seven weeks--respond when faced with adversity?
Josh Brandon provided a pretty good answer.
The senior wide receiver caught a short pass from Jason Winn, broke a tackle by Ruel Samuels of El Camino Real, and turned the play into an 85-yard touchdown to give the Highlanders a 28-21 victory Friday night at Granada Hills.
Brandon's big play came with 1:48 remaining and three plays after Granada Hills (8-0, 5-0) had squandered the last of a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter.
"I was just supposed to get the first down," said Brandon, who caught five passes for 142 yards. "But I got clear and just hoped no one would catch me."
The Conquistadores (4-3-1, 3-2) had a final chance but Jonathan Graham's desperation fourth-down pass was intercepted by Peter Gunny with just less than a minute left.
Granada Hills came into the game with the top defense among City Section teams from the region, allowing less than 200 yards a game.
But Graham had his best passing game of the season for the run-oriented Conquistadores. He completed seven of 11 for 140 yards, including a 63-yard pass play to twin brother Justin. That set up a one-yard touchdown run by DeAngelo Nedd, his second of the fourth quarter. Devontra Hargrove ran in a two-point conversion to tie the score at 21-21 with 3:28 left.
The Highlanders gave up 323 yards and 21 points, both season-highs.
"I don't like to see that many points on the scoreboard," Granada Hills co-Coach Darryl Stroh said.
It could have been more. A 26-yard touchdown run by Justin Graham was called back because of a clipping penalty in the second quarter.
The Conquistadores controlled the ball throughout most of the game, running 63 plays compared to 36 for Granada Hills.
But the Highlanders made the most of them. Omari Mack scored on runs of 10 and 40 yards to help the Highlanders to a 21-6 lead late in the third quarter.