Unbeaten Culver Rolls over El Segundo
Centaurs record 6-0, Faces Lawndale High this Week
October 12, 2017
Culver City High football successfully began the 2017 Ocean League season with a 46-27 win at El Segundo High on Friday night, October 6, before a near-capacity crowd at intimate Hazeltine Field.
The Centaurs took a 33-7 lead at halftime before an endless deluge of penalty flags bogged down the game, the players, the coaches and the fans in the second half. The two excellent football programs on the Westside deserved better.
El Segundo took an early 7-0 lead on a 41-yard interception return for touchdown in the first quarter to the delight of their solid-packed fans. The joy eventually dissipated as Culver running back Brandon Oum scored three touchdowns while wide receivers Joshua Ford and Jamal Glaspie each caught a touchdown to quiet the boisterous crowd by half.
"It was a very good win against a tough opponent. El Segundo has a lot of community support with a good coaching staff. We had to grind out an Ocean League game to get a victory," said Culver Head Coach Jahmal Wright. "I thought the defense did a good job especially in the first half by getting stops, making them punt and getting the ball back to us."
After a slow start the Centaurs' high-powered offense finally scored when Oum sprinted left and cut back for a six-yard touchdown with 1:11 left in the first quarter. The extra-point failed. Two minutes later an Alex Smith 28-yard punt return set up Culver at the El Segundo 40-yard line. Five plays later quarterback Jonathan Martin threw left to Oum who then dashed untouched into the end zone for a 13-7 lead.
Minutes later Glaspie returned an Eagle punt 27 yards to set up Culver City near midfield. Two pass receptions and a punishing run by Oum put the ball on the Eagle nine-yard line. Martin then threw to Ford who made a low-diving catch for a 13-yard touchdown in the left corner of the end zone. On El Segundo's next drive Centaur linebacker Augustus Fraser forced a quarterback fumble that was recovered by lineman Antonio Morillo.
"I was definitely happy with the defense. El Segundo, not only have they played good defense they've been putting up a lot of points and beating their opponents by a wide margin. So for our defense to go out there and pitch a shutout in the first half really helped our offense to get going," said Wright.
"El Segundo pretty much runs a balanced attack. Their focal point is their quarterback. He runs the ball well and passes the ball well. So we were trying to neutralize their quarterback, cause some havoc in the backfield and show their quarterback different looks."
Martin drove the Centaurs 45 yards in five plays ending with a strike to seven-yard touchdown pass to Glaspie in the back of the end zone. Culver led 26-7 and still time to score once more in the half. That happened courtesy of defensive back Jamar Baines who made a sweeping interception in front of the El Segundo bench.
Now in a groove, Martin threw a dart to wide receiver Chris Miller who caught the ball at the Eagle 35-yard line, raced down the right sideline, was tripped at the seven-yard line and leaped to the one-yard line. Oum simply powered the next play up the middle for his third touchdown and a commanding halftime lead.
Wright: "Brandon had a huge role especially in the second quarter. He scored three touchdowns which springboarded us. Not only was it in the run game, it was in the pass game as well. He caught great passes that kept drives going and made some huge plays that really helped our offense get up to speed.
"Brandon is all about the team and is a dynamic football player. He's very intense, he really cares, has great senior leadership and wants to be successful. So he takes the job very seriously. It doesn't matter what role he has. He can be a blocker, receiver, tackler, special teamer... he doesn't care. He just wants to help the team."
El Segundo got their offense with a 51-yard touchdown run on the opening drive of the second half. 13 seconds later Culver kick returner and wide receiver Alex Smith quickly negated the score with a stunning 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. He burned the Eagle special team down the left side of the field untouched.
"Alex has been a dynamic kickoff returner ever since he's been on the varsity team. El Segundo wanted to kick the ball to him and he definitely made them pay," said Wright on the designed play. The kickoff return team did a great job of executing the play that was called. They did their job, Alex was able to read their blocks and get the ball into the end zone."
Then for the next 23 minutes the game turned into a quagmire. The officiating crew threw flag after flag. Both teams totaled 242 yards in penalties on 26 calls not including those that were declined, an unheard of total for two teams known for their play execution. The Centaurs were penalized 95 yards. The Eagles were assessed an astounding 147 yards in penalties.
Regardless, El Segundo was able to add two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter to reduce the deficit to 39-27 with 6:34 remaining in the game. Culver finally shut the door with less than three minutes to go on a fine effort by senior linebacker and long snapper Aaron Carey. Seldom used on offense, Carey scored a touchdown on a clever misdirection 27-yard catch-and-run play.
He ran down the right sideline and cut back only to be met head-on by an Eagle defender just short of the goal line. After the initial collision that momentarily stopped all action on the field, Carey kept his legs pumping, carrying him into the end zone. He was mobbed by his teammates in jubilation for his effort and securing the team's victory.
"It was a very diversified attack that we used without our two leading receivers, Charles Ross and Kevin McGuire. Jonathan did a good job of spreading the ball around and throwing the ball to the open man," said Wright. "It's a tribute to how everybody else has worked. We're not a one-man show and on any given night someone can step up and make a play for us."
Culver City now takes on its biggest challenge of the season, Lawndale High. The Cardinals have beaten the Centaurs the past three seasons including a 45-33 thrashing at Lawndale last year. Both teams are undefeated this season at 6-0 overall and 1-0 in Ocean League action. The Centaurs have totaled one more point than the Cardinals in six games to date, 283-282. Lawndale's defense has given up only 39 points total compared to Culver's 109.
Wright acknowledged: "We're facing a team that's definitely the best on our schedule. We have not been able to beat Lawndale since they joined the league. They're a very good team with a very good coaching staff. Our team knows what's in front of us. It's a challenge and we're excited to face them. It's going to be a great game Friday night."