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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

Crenshaw defeats Lakewood with late comeback

The Cougars have a 70-yard drive that culminates with an eight-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Marquis Thompson to Geno Hall to put them ahead by one point with 2:33 to go.

September 05, 2009|ERIC SONDHEIMER

In a breathless, entertaining, white-knuckler for a Zero Week high school football opener, Los Angeles Crenshaw fought back in the fourth quarter Friday night behind unflappable junior quarterback Marquis Thompson to pull out a 28-27 victory at home over Lakewood.

Thompson could have had his head down, feeling sorry for himself after an interception and fumble had cost his team dearly.

But there he was in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter firing clutch pass after clutch pass during a 70-yard drive that culminated with an eight-yard touchdown pass to Geno Hall to put the Cougars on top by a single point with 2:33 left.

Thompson completed a 19-yard pass to Gregory Ducre on third-and-10. And he had a nine-yard pass to Hall on fourth-and-one from the 19. With the pressure on and suspense growing, Thompson delivered again and again.

"I just stayed focused and I believed in my receivers," Thompson said.

Even more impressive is that Crenshaw's final drive came without standout running back DeAnthony Thomas, who was hobbling through the second half with an ankle injury.

Hall was the game changer. He caught a 38-yard touchdown pass with an acrobatic catch between two Lakewood defenders 21 seconds into the game. He finished with 10 receptions for 117 yards and two touchdowns.

Crenshaw's defense had to overcome the talent and patience of USC-bound quarterback Jesse Scroggins of Lakewood. He completed 17 of 27 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns. Not until a fourth-down Scroggins pass fell incomplete from the Crenshaw 25 with just over one minute left could the Cougars feel comfortable.

"We made adjustments on him," Crenshaw defensive back Le'Jon Baker said. "In the second half, we played man-to-man more aggressively."

In the first half, Scroggins completed 10 of 12 passes for 109 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown pass to Chris Davis with 16 seconds left to give Lakewood a 21-15 halftime lead. Momentum changed for Crenshaw when Baker broke through to block a punt, then recovered the ball and ran seven yards for a touchdown with 1:13 remaining in the third quarter to put the Cougars ahead, 22-21.

Ryan Cummings, who had an interception in the first half for Lakewood, recovered a Thompson fumble on the Crenshaw 20. That enabled Scroggins to strike with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Davis for a 27-22 Lakewood lead.

The win could be huge for Crenshaw, ranked No. 9 by The Times. Lakewood, ranked No. 3, has Pac-5 Division title aspirations. Crenshaw is the City Section title favorite and now moves into state CIF bowl contention just one week into the season based on an impressive victory over a strong opponent.

"This is real good for the City Section," Thompson said. "People didn't think we could beat them."

Crenshaw still has lots to improve on. The defense was called for five offside penalties. Not having the speedy Thomas in the backfield resulted in a sluggish offense at times.

But for a City team to come through early in the season against one of the elite teams in the Southern Section speaks loudly about the accomplishment of the Cougars.

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eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

twitter.com/latsondheimer

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