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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Kennedy Reclaims Trophy

Football: Golden Cougars use early big plays and late drive to grab hardware from cross-town rival Granada Hills, 40-28.

October 07, 2000|STEVE HENSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

GRANADA HILLS — A big-play first half gave way to a big-heart finish.

And Kennedy High did the thumping.

The Cougars ground down Granada Hills, 40-28, Friday night in a nonleague cross-town rivalry between unbeaten teams that began with fireworks and ended with a down-and-dirty Kennedy drive that chewed up more than six minutes and any chance of a Highlander comeback.

"I'm so proud of our effort I can hardly speak," Kennedy Coach Bob Francola said. "I love our five guys up front. They are tough, tough kids and they did what they had to do to run out the clock."

With Kennedy's linemen pushing around a clearly fatigued Granada Hills defense, tailback Jerome Williams carried 12 times in a row during a march that began with more than eight minutes to play and ended at the Highlander six-yard line with less than two minutes left.

Kennedy's defense, well-rested at that point, sacked Bobby Baca for a safety on Granada Hills' first play for the game's final points. The Highlanders (4-1) were held scoreless in the second half.

"We knew we had to run the clock down and that's where our conditioning became a factor," said Williams, who had 58 yards on the drive and 185 yards in 27 carries in the game. He scored the last Kennedy touchdown on a 13-yard run with 5:31 to play in the third quarter.

The Cougars had one sprint left in them. A perpetual trophy sponsored by the Granada Hills Chamber of Commerce sat on the Granada Hills bench during the game. During the postgame handshake Highlander co-Coach Tom Harp handed it over to Francola.

The Kennedy players dashed to the trophy and held it high. The victory was Kennedy's seventh in 13 games since the chamber began the tradition in 1988 and ended a two-game Granada Hills' win streak in the series.

Kennedy (4-0-1) doubled the 20 points Granada Hills had allowed in its first four games. Early on, it appeared both teams would eclipse 40 points.

James Norris returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a Kennedy touchdown, but Granada Hills receiver Joey Rodriguez did it one-yard better late in the first quarter, hauling in a long Baca pass and dashing for a 91-yard touchdown to tie the score.

Norris struck again in the final seconds of the quarter on a 49-yard end run, but the big plays were only beginning.

Thirty-eight points were scored in the second quarter. Granada Hills opened the barrage with a 14-yard run by Robert Ortega and a 43-yard reception by Rodriguez. Kennedy answered on a 63-yard pass play from Adam Geery to Efren Lopez.

Granada Hills had one more strong drive, going 55 yards in seven plays to take a 28-21 lead on a six-yard run by Bryan Wilson.

Kennedy's David Franco kicked a 23-yard field goal with 35 seconds to play, and it appeared Granada Hills would take a 28-24 lead into halftime. But Baca's first-down pass was intercepted by Civen Jones, and with nine seconds to go Norris completed a double pass to Franco for a 40-yard touchdown.

"We wanted to get that trophy back," Norris said. "Two years ago, they took it away. I wanted it back."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

COVERAGE INSIDE

MEASURING UP

BEST IN REGION

* See who were the week's statistical passing, rushing and receiving leaders. Page 14

NO ENTRY INTO

THE END ZONE

* Defenses ruled as Notre Dame and Damien played to a scoreless tie in a nonleague game. Page 15

EBELL RINGS UP

FIVE TOUCHDOWNS

* Tyler Ebell rushed for 378 yards and five touchdowns in Ventura High's 43-30 victory over Oxnard. Page 15

SYLMAR HOLDS OFF

THE CHANCELLORS

* Chatsworth gives the unbeaten Spartans their best test of the season, but Sylmar wins, 28-14. Page 16

OUTBURST FOR

EL CAMINO REAL

* Jeremy Boyle, Keondray Washington help El Camino Real defeat Calabasas. Page 16

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