Backups Stumble But Culver Wins
Last Friday’s game against Redondo almost seemed like three games in one for the Culver City High football team.
There was the first quarter, when the Centaurs fell behind 6-0 and did little offensively. Then there was the next 2 ½ quarters, when Culver City dominated and took a 32-13 lead.
And then there was the final four minutes, when Coach Jahmal Wright put in the backups with a seemingly safe lead and almost lived to regret it.
But the Centaurs held off a late Redondo rally and held on to beat the Sea Hawks, 32-27, in a non-league game to improve to 2-1 for the season.
“We got the win, so I’m happy about that,” Wright said. “I thought we had the game in the bag after we went up 32-13, so I put in the backups, and I didn’t envision it going as bad as it did. But we held on.”
Culver City had 371 yards and held Redondo to 238. And about 70 of Redondo’s yards came during those final hectic minutes against the backups.
It didn’t look like it would be such a close finish. After a slow start, Culver City got into a rhythm, thanks again to Julius Wilson, the Centaurs’ receiver/kick returner extraordinaire.
After Donovan Davis scored on a 15-yard run early in the second quarter to tie the game 6-6, Wilson took over, scoring the Centaurs’ next three touchdowns. He scored the first on a 21-yard pass from Xan Cuevas to give Culver City a 13-6 lead.
Then Wilson had two punt returns for touchdowns. The first was an 86-yarder on a punt that Wilson let bounce, then decided to pick up when he saw space. It was a risky move with defenders bearing down on him, but Wilson made it pay off with a score to give Culver City a 20-6 lead at halftime.
After Redondo scored a touchdown early in the third quarter to cut the Centaurs’ lead to 20-13, Wilson returned another punt for a score – this one from 60 yards out – to give Culver City a 26-13 lead.
“Julius is definitely a special talent,” Wright said. “He does something explosive every time he touches the ball. He makes coaching a lot easier.”
Then when Cuevas found Sydney Dorsey for a 22-yard touchdown pass with 4:47 left to give the Centaurs a 32-13 lead, the game appeared to be over.
But Redondo (2-2) made it interesting against the Centaurs’ backups.
After forcing Redondo to punt with just over three minutes left, Culver City looked to be in control. But backup David Handler misfired on passes and the Centaurs quickly gave the ball back to the Sea Hawks.
Running back Jamal Perkins quickly scored on a 65-yard run and the Sea Hawks made the two-point conversion to make it 32-21 with two minutes left.
Again, Culver City couldn’t take much time off the clock and punted, and Redondo blocked the kick. The ball at first appeared to roll into the end zone, where Culver City recovered the ball, which would have given Redondo a safety. But the officials ruled it was Redondo’s ball at the Centaurs’ 1-yard line.
On the next play, Perkins scored to make it 32-27 with 44 seconds left. Redondo’s two-point conversion attempt failed.
Culver City recovered the ensuing onside kickoff by Redondo and finally was able to run out the clock for the win.
“I was disappointed in our second string,” Wright said. “We wanted to get them some playing time, but we just weren’t able to run out the clock like we wanted to.”
Cuevas completed 17 of 32 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns, while Akili Skannal ran for 67 yards on 12 carries, Davis ran for 35 yards and a touchdown on three carries, and Wilson ran for 29 yards on three carries.
Wilson caught four passes for 51 yards and a score, Dorsey caught three passes for 60 yards and a TD and Miriel Paschel caught six passes for 45 yards.
On defense, Brandon Meyers had 14 tackles and a sack, Delwaun Beard had 11 tackles, two sacks and caused a fumble and Siaee Shaw had 11 tackles and two pass breakups.
On Friday, the Centaurs host West Adams Prep, which according to maxpreps.com hasn’t played since Aug. 30, when it lost to San Pedro 53-0. According to the website, West Adams Prep is 0-2 and has been outscored 109-0.