Centaurs Hope to Rebound after Loss to Palos Verdes

It wasn't the kind of Pacific Ocean sunset that the Centaurs wanted last week, but hope the night will treat them better when they play the Downey Dons on Friday.

Culver City High's 12-point lead evaporated in the fourth quarter at Palos Verdes High as the Sea Kings rallied for two late touchdowns to clip the Cents, 37-36, on a warm Friday afternoon football game in the South Bay peninsula.

"It was a tough pill to swallow, being up by 12 points with under 10 minutes left in the game," said Centaur Head Coach Jahmal Wright. "We hoped we could seal the deal and finish them off. To their credit they were able to bounce back.

"We kind of stalled in the fourth quarter for the last two or three drives. That was the key component that compelled them to victory. They were able to get stops in the fourth quarter and we couldn't get our defense off the field."

Culver High had their lead cut to 36-31 with 5:12 remaining in the game on a 66-yard Palos Verdes drive that ended with a four-yard touchdown run. The Sea Kings converted three third-downs into first downs during the drive, including one crucial play.

Wright: "I recall a third-and-14 and we're still up by 12 points. That was a real turning point in the game. If we get a stop there and they don't pick up the 40 yards they got on that play, I don't know if they win the game."

Instead, Palos Verdes reduced the lead to six points and had the momentum and a revived home crowd in support.

After going three-and-out on their next possession, the Centaurs had to punt from their own end zone. The kick to the Centaur 38-yard line set up the Sea Kings winning drive.

It took just three running plays. The first two went right for a first down at the Culver 24-yard line. Ryan Wilson took the next handoff directly up the middle and into the end zone for the game's winning score. The two-point conversion attempt failed, but the damage was already done.

"Palos Verdes is a well-coached team. They came out and played tough-nosed defense and we had a hard time creating running lanes for our backs," said Wright.

The Sea Kings took a 7-0 lead on the opening drive of the game. The Centaurs defense had successfully stopped the drive several times, but received questionable penalties that escorted Palos Verdes down the field.

Culver City, playing with first-time starter Nick Lucero at quarterback, got better in the second quarter. Lucero hit wide receiver Jamal Glaspie with a 22-yard pass to tie the score at seven each.

The Sea Kings responded with a kickoff return to the Culver six-yard line and rushed for a touchdown on the next play. They added a 35-yard field goal minutes later to lead, 17-7.

It took only two plays for the Centaurs to cut the deficit to 17-14 before the half. The first was a Joshua Ford 46-yard dash down the right sidelines. The second was a Lucero to Chris Miller 36-yard strike along the right sideline for a touchdown.

"The halftime message to the Cents was, 'we can score points on this team,' Wright said. "Let's just score, get on top and just stay on top. That was our goal."

The Centaurs scored three minutes into the third quarter on a short quick-out touchdown pass to Tyler Luckett. A 20-yard pass to Jamal Glaspie started the drive.

Culver seemed to take control of the game on the next play from scrimmage, when Palos Verdes fumbled the ball on a hit by safety Justin Jarmon.

Cornerback Dominic Tatum picked up the fumble and returned it 22 yards for the 36-24 lead.

The Centaurs momentum would expire 11 minutes later.

"To Nick's credit, he was able to come out and throw four touchdown passes and complete 22 of 29 passes for 359 yards ...

"Nick showed some poise," Coach Wright said. "It didn't look like the moment was too big for him. He looked relaxed and prepared. And he showed me that he can play at a high level in varsity football."

Wright emphasized the areas where the team still needs attention. He said that they need to improve their kicking game, kickoff coverage and defense against the run.

Culver City will host Dorsey High this Friday in their last preseason game of the year before they begin Ocean League action.

Dorsey is currently winless but has given the Centaurs all they could handle the last two years. Culver outlasted the Dons 30-27 last season and 35-31 in 2016.

Despite their winless record, "Dorsey is going to play us tough," Wright said.

"They have a tough football team and some good players."


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