One-Sided Defeat Jolts Centaurs - Crenshaw Exposes Culver Weaknesses
This wasn’t what the Culver City High football team envisioned.
When the Centaurs took on Crenshaw, widely regarded as the best team in the L.A. City Section and probably one of the top teams in Southern California, last week at home, Culver City saw itself hanging tough with the No. 1-ranked team in the L.A. Times’ poll and the No. 5-ranked team in the state. The Centaurs, who beat the Cougars two years ago and almost rallied from a 21-0 deficit before losing to them by a touchdown last year, pictured a hard-fought game with a chance to win.
Instead, Culver City had a night full of Murphy’s Law.
Just about everything that could go wrong did for the Centaurs, as they turned the ball over four times, while letting Crenshaw convert several key third-down and fourth-down plays as the Cougars routed Culver City, 48-7 to hand the Centaurs their first loss of the season.
“We just couldn’t get anything positive going,” Centaurs coach Jahmal Wright said. “It was one of those nights. Not to take anything away from Crenshaw, they’re every bit as good as their rankings, but I really felt we were just a play or two on defense from being able to turn the tide.”
Instead, the Centaurs (3-1) were hit with a tidal wave of bad luck and mistakes.
The opening kickoff set the tone for the night, as Devin Sylvester, who most of the time kicks the ball out of the end zone for a touchback, hit a pooch kick that Hayes Pullard returned 45 yards to the Culver City 30-yard line. Then on fourth down, Marquis Thompson connected with Geno Hall on a 16-yard touchdown pass to make it 7-0.
Culver City took the ensuing kickoff and drove to the Crenshaw 20, but a sack short-circuited the drive, and the Centaurs turned the ball over on downs at the Cougars’ 31.
Then bad luck struck, as the Centaurs’ Corbin Jefferson seemed to be in position to intercept a Thompson pass deep in Culver City territory. But the ball bounced off his hands and into the hands of Hall, who scored to give Crenshaw a 14-0 lead.
Crenshaw (5-0) made it 21-0 on another touchdown pass from Thompson to Hall, and then Culver City turned the ball over again in Crenshaw territory when Centaurs quarterback Marquel Carter had the ball slip out of his hand as he cocked his arm to throw. Crenshaw recovered, and scored soon after when DeAnthony Thomas ran 47 yards for a touchdown on a reverse to make it 28-0.
Culver City got on the scoreboard before halftime on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Carter to Edwin Tillman to make it 28-7. But the second half started with more misery, as Carter threw an interception while being hit, and Crenshaw scored on another fourth-down play to make it 35-7.
“I think we learned a lot about ourselves and what we need to work on,” Wright said. “And one of the things we really need to work on is pass defense. We just couldn’t make plays on third and fourth down when we needed a stop. That’s something we’ll work on a lot in practice.”
Carter completed 15 of 29 passes for 262 yards and a touchdown, with an interception and a fumble. Tillman ran for 56 yards and had four catches for 73 yards. Noah Ashley caught three passes for 69 yards, Sylvester had four catches for 45 yards and Cruz Cueva had four catches for 49 yards.
On defense, Victor Burnett had a monster game, with 20 total tackles. Jonathan Zisner had 10 tackles and Billy Sanchez had nine tackles.
For Crenshaw, Hall was just about unstoppable, as he caught four TD passes.
The Cougars have beaten Lakewood, Norco, A.B. Miller of Fontana and North of Riverside in addition to Culver City, solidifying their status of being a contender for a state bowl berth in December.
“Crenshaw is definitely one of the best teams in the state,” Wright said. “All those guys have been on the varsity for two or three years, and all that experience is paying off. They’re light years ahead of where they’ve been the past two years when we played them.”
This week, the Centaurs host Redondo on Friday. Redondo is 2-2, having won its past two games, including a 21-17 victory over Banning last week.