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Sylmar Wins on Last-Second Play

November 24, 2005|Martin Henderson; Eric Sondheimer; Austin Knoblauch; Peter Yoon | From Times Staff Reports

San Pedro's defense focused on Sylmar's C.J. Gable all night, but when it counted for the Pirates, they would have been better off focusing on someone else.

John Austin connected with Luis Valdez on a 13-yard touchdown pass with one second remaining to give fifth-seeded Sylmar a 33-30 victory Wednesday over fourth-seeded San Pedro in a Championship Division quarterfinal of the City Section playoffs.

Gable had carried visiting Sylmar (12-0) all night, so four defenders followed him to the left side of the field on the final play. Austin threaded the needle between two defenders down the middle for the winning score. It was his second touchdown pass to Valdez.

"That's what we wanted to do, use him as a decoy," said Sylmar Coach London Woodfin, whose team is trying to win its first title since 1994. "We should have lost this game, to tell you the truth."

San Pedro (9-3) outgained Sylmar, 355 yards to 314, and even though Gable rushed 10 times for 94 yards, 75 came on a touchdown run. Gable also delivered a 69-yard scoring reception and a 72-yard interception return to help Sylmar build a 19-10 halftime lead.

San Pedro rallied behind the running of Devin Carter, who carried 41 times for 192 yards. He capped a 72-yard drive with a six-yard scoring run to make it 26-23, and after San Pedro recovered a short kickoff at the Sylmar 36, the Pirates took the lead, 30-26, on a 15-yard pass from Jason Garneau to Joseph Padilla with 6:47 left.

Sylmar will play at top-seeded Woodland Hills Taft on Dec. 2 in the semifinals.

-- Martin Henderson

Taft 39, Lake Balboa Birmingham 34 -- With the Toreadors clinging to a six-point lead with just over six minutes left, sophomore quarterback Exavier Johnson connected with Jamere Holland on a 67-yard touchdown pass play for the game's decisive play, sending Taft (12-0) into next week's semifinals.

Johnson's touchdown pass came on an all-out blitz by Birmingham and made up for an embarrassing 14-second span of the second quarter when he had passes intercepted on consecutive plays and returned for touchdowns of 43 and 39 yards by Juan Ramirez and Dominik Baker.

Shelton Banks scored two touchdowns for Taft and played well on defense.

Birmingham (6-6) hurt itself with turnovers. The Patriots lost two fumbles on kickoffs, resulting in two Taft touchdowns. And Taft linebacker Terrance Flournoy returned an interception 48 yards for a touchdown.

-- Eric Sondheimer

Dorsey 34, Fairfax 13 -- Senior Stafon Johnson became the first running back in school history to eclipse the 2,000-yard plateau in a season by rushing 22 times for 265 yards and three touchdowns to lead third-seeded Dorsey (10-2) into the semifinals with its second win this season over visiting Fairfax (9-3).

Johnson was nearly unstoppable, rushing for touchdowns of 41, 27 and 53 yards as the Dons overcame an early 7-6 deficit and shut out Fairfax in the second and third quarters.

Fairfax senior running back Patrick Hill did his best to lead the Lions, rushing for 164 yards and two touchdowns in 26 carries. But it wasn't enough to remedy an offense that often sputtered at midfield.

Dorsey, which last won a section title in 2001, will play Coliseum League champion and longtime rival Crenshaw next week.

-- Austin Knoblauch

Crenshaw 48, Venice 3 -- Raymond Carter rushed for 221 yards and touchdowns of 59, 30 and 10 yards in 18 carries and the Cougar defense continued its solid late-season play in a victory at Crenshaw.

The second-seeded Cougars (9-3) had three consecutive shutouts before Wednesday and have given up only 57 points in their last eight games.

Venice (9-3) trailed, 13-0 at halftime and got a 35-yard field goal by Juan Siquenza to make it 13-3 with 8:07 left in the third quarter, but Crenshaw's big playmakers took over.

Carter scored on a 30-yard run and John Thompson returned a punt 83 yards for a touchdown and a 27-3 Crenshaw lead after three quarters.

-- Peter Yoon

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