Key Game Is Friday Night
In a season that started out with so much promise, the Culver City High football team’s motto is quickly becoming “what could have been.”
In each of the Centaurs’ losses this season, they have had myriad opportunities to win, but have failed to take advantage because of their own mistakes. It happened again to Culver City last Friday night in a key Ocean League contest against Inglewood, as the Centaurs doomed their chances of winning with five turnovers.
The result was an ugly 12-9 loss that put a dent in Culver City’s chances of winning its first league title since 2009.
The defeat dropped the Centaurs to 4-3 overall and 1-1 in the Ocean League. Culver City is in a tie for second place in league with Morningside, while Inglewood and Santa Monica are tied for first with 2-0 league records.
Culver City travels to Santa Monica this Friday for a 7 p.m. contest, and it’s shaping up as a must-win game for the Centaurs if they want to hold on to any thoughts of winning the league title.
But the Centaurs could have been in a much better position in league if they had been able to take care of the ball against the Sentinels. Instead, Culver City committed four turnovers, losing four fumbles and having a pass intercepted in the Inglewood end zone.
The mistakes started early. Julius Wilson fumbled a punt that Inglewood recovered inside Culver City territory, leading to a Sentinels touchdown that made it 6-0.
Inglewood scored another touchdown in the first quarter to take a 12-0 lead and put the Centaurs in a hole. But Culver City kept themselves from climbing out with its own miscues.
Another fumble by Wilson stopped one drive, and a dropped pass that would have likely been a touchdown killed another.
Then Winner Watts intercepted an Inglewood pass and returned it to the Sentinels’ 20-yard line, but an incomplete pass on fourth down from the 17 meant another missed opportunity.
Kevin Beacham intercepted an Inglewood pass at the Culver City pass late in the first half to keep the Sentinels from getting any more points before halftime, and it was 12-0 Inglewood at the break.
Culver City had to kick off to start the second half, but the Centaurs pulled off a trick play in which most of the players on the kickoff team went to one side of the field while the kick went to the other side. Stanley Norman recovered the kick, but Culver City faltered on a fourth-and-6 play from the Inglewood 45.
The Centaurs finally got on the scoreboard with just under four minutes left in the third quarter when Xan Cuevas threw a six-yard pass to Norman, and Culver City trailed 12-7 and was right back in the game.
But the Centaurs’ mistakes kept them from ever taking the lead.
Culver City drove inside the Inglewood 10 early in the fourth quarter, but a fumble by Norman with 10:21 left erased another scoring opportunity.
The Centaurs had another chance when they took the ball at their own five with 5:37 left and drove to the Inglewood 12, but a pass by Cuevas was intercepted in the end zone and returned to the Inglewood 25 with just over a minute left.
The Centaurs’ defense held and Culver City appeared to get a huge break when the Inglewood punter dropped the snap, picked the ball up and dropped it again. He was hit by several Culver City players and the ball was loose.
There was a mad scramble for the ball near the goal line, and had Culver City come up with the ball, the Centaurs could have had a touchdown or the ball at the Inglewood 1. But it was ruled by the officials that Inglewood recovered the ball in its own end zone for a safety, making the score 12-9.
That turned out to be a bad break for Culver City, because Inglewood had the chance for a free kick with just a few seconds left. Norman fielded the kick and got to midfield, but he was tackled at the 50 as time expired.
So now Culver City is badly in need of a win against Santa Monica, which is 4-3 overall. The Vikings have won their first two league games, including a 24-0 win over Beverly Hills last week.