Culver Football Gains Share Of First Place Again

Centaurs Win at Hawthorne High


October 27, 2016

The Culver City High Centaurs moved into a four-way tie for first place in the 2016 Ocean League football season as they trounced host Lawndale High 62-35, on Friday, October 21.

The Centaurs scored nine touchdowns, two each in the first three quarters yet the outcome wasn't decided until the fourth quarter when they rallied for three more touchdowns to slam the door on a much-improved and stubborn Hawthorne team which crept back into the game at 42-35 minutes into the final quarter.

"My first impression: It was a league game and Hawthorne was 2-0, so I was very happy we won the game. There were a lot of teaching tools that we'll be able to use from that game that we didn't do too well and that we have to correct moving forward," said Culver Head Coach Jahmal Wright.

"I thought Jonathan (Martin, Culver quarterback) had his most efficient game. He only had two incomplete passes. He helped execute the offense pretty well. The offensive line was opening holes for the running backs and I was very pleased with how the offense played."

Martin hit Mekhi Ware on an 18-yard pass to give Culver a 7-0 lead less than two minutes after the opening kickoff. Hawthorne wasted little time as they returned the ensuing onside kickoff deep in Culver territory and tied the score four plays later.

Wright: "Mekhi scored our first touchdown on a play-action fake. We saw some things out there and we thought we could execute because they were pretty aggressive on defense. So we faked the run and were able to throw to Mekhi for a touchdown pass over the middle.

"I was a little disappointed in how we gave up the two touchdowns in the first half. Granted their first touchdown was helped when they scooped up the onside kick and ran it down to the five-yard line. I thought we did a good job of forcing them into fourth down but they got in on a quarterback sneak."

The action kept heating up. Centaur return specialist Alex Smith returned the favor and blazed a 92-yard trail along the right sideline and into the endzone for a 14-7 lead at 8:35 of the 1st quarter. It was his second kickoff return for a touchdown this season.

"Alex is one of our more explosive athletes on the team. He hasn't played too much offense this year so he's excited when he gets the ball in his hands. He's a special talent and he was able to execute the technique on the kickoff return and run it back for a touchdown," added Wright.

Hawthorne tied it at 14-14 with another one-yard run seconds into the second quarter. Two minutes later running back Brandon Oum scored on a five-yard run to cap a 63-yard drive and give Culver City a 21-14 lead.

Three plays later Alex Smith, playing cornerback, recovered a fumble caused by free safety Steven Ashby giving Culver the ball at the Hawthorne 41-yard line. On the next play Martin hit wide receiver Kevin McGuire with a perfect pass down the right sideline for a 41-yard touchdown and a 28-14 lead that remained until halftime.

Martin opened the second half with a 17-yard touchdown pass again to McGuire as the Centaurs appeared to make it a rout. But the Cardinals immediately responded with a 59-yard touchdown pass. Three minutes later Martin hit McGuire with a 17-yard touchdown pass and a 42-21 lead.

"Jonathan threw five touchdowns total and ended up throwing three touchdown passes to Kevin McGuire. A lot of that has to do with the chemistry they have developed over the season so far. He definitely has some continuity with Kevin, who Kevin is leading the league with 52 receptions on the season," said Wright.

But Hawthorne was relentless and drove down the field and scored on a 24-yard run. At 10:18 of the fourth quarter the Cardinals hooked up for a 30-yard pass to get within seven points of the lead, 41-35. The barnburner was officially on.

Wright: "I thought the game was a little too close and we let Hawthorne hang around. They have a good coaching staff and they executed and found some holes in our defense. It hurt us big time.

"Defensively, there were some lulls in the middle of the game. I think we could have played a little harder but it's a lesson learned. We understood what we did wrong and know what we have to do to fix it."

Culver still had plenty left in the tank as John Lewis returned the kickoff to the Lawndale 34-yard line with a left sideline to right sideline to left sideline run. Martin scored on a six-yard run to the right end zone to increase the lead to 49-35. Hawthorne finally succumbed with a failed fourth-down attempt.

Martin directed a drive and capped it off with a two-yard pass to wide receiver Deven Osborne at 6:22 and Nick Bradley scored the final touchdown on two-yard run with two minutes to go.

"Nick Bradley had a tough early season sprain so he missed the first month of the season. So we're trying to get him back in football shape and mentally ready. Nick is doing a good job, staying positive and helping the team," said Wright.

The very efficient and balanced Centaur offense needed only 50 plays to gain 459 yards total, 238 yards passing and 221 yards rushing. Martin, the Ocean League's leading passer for the past two seasons, was very impressive with 14/16 passing for 222 yards and five touchdowns.

Oum had 10 rushing attempts for 110 yards and one touchdown. McGuire had four receptions for 92 yards and three touchdowns. Ware had three catches for 36 yards and one touchdown. Osborne had three receptions for 54 yards and one touchdown.

Defensively, John Lewis led with 12 total tackles, six solos and six assisted. Ashby had 10 total tackles, four solos and six assisted. Charles Ross had two interceptions and three total tackles. Robert Simon, Alex Smith and Cameron Williams each recovered a fumble. Ashby, Jerrian Anderson and Alex Sanchez each caused a fumble.

The Centaurs will host rival Santa Monica High this Friday for Senior Night at Jerry Chabola Stadium.

"We have some special seniors who have been through a lot. They've pretty much helped turn our program around and we want to honor them Friday night. So we're excited about the opportunity to send our seniors out with a victory," concluded Wright.

"The Ocean League ends in two weeks and when the dust settles we'll see who ends up at the top of the standings. Defending the title was one of the goals that we set this off-season and we're fortunate that El Segundo beat Lawndale. That opens up a chance of a three-way tie for the league title."


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