Centaurs Beat Millikan in Second Round of Playoffs
Culver Faces a Tough Team from Northwood High on Friday
November 15, 2018
Back at it. Culver City High advanced to the CIF Football Playoffs Semifinal round for the second consecutive year as they held off stubborn Millikan High, 43-30, on its well-worn dirt field, complete with dim lights and old-school sawed-off goal posts. It took one half of Friday night football for the Centaurs to adjust their bearings in Long Beach... then the jets kicked in.
Culver City High's offense heated up in the second half running back Joshua Ford, wide receivers Kevin McGuire, Jamal Glaspie and Chris Miller, along with quarterback Zevi Ekhaus led the Centaur attack. Ford had 202 yards rushing, 85 yards receiving and scored the game's first touchdown on the Centaurs' first possession.
"It was a very big win, it was a good experience and we needed it," said Ford. "They're a very good team but we could have done better executing the plays, catching the balls and making better reads. But one thing about our team, we're very confident. We have little doubt about what we can do."
"It was definitely a good team win. Whenever you can beat a quality opponent it's satisfying," said head coach Jahmal Wright. "But I thought we missed some targets. We had five or six plays to where we over-threw the receiver. We just couldn't connect or the receiver dropped the ball. And that was all in the first half."
Ford scored on a 5-yard pass from quarterback Zevi Eckhaus as the Centaurs took a 7-0 lead. Kicker Matthew Lopez converted the first of his five successful extra-point attempts for the game. The Rams kicked a 29-yard field goal on the next possession and scored on a 28-yard run to take a 9-7 lead with 6:17 left in the first half.
The Centaurs started warming up as Eckhaus completed a tight 18-yard touchdown pass to Chris Miller to retake the lead, 14-9, just before the half ended. Miller put the first nail in the Rams' coffin on the Centaurs' opening drive of the third quarter. As the team's place-kick holder, Miller took a bad snap on a short field goal attempt, curled right and made an acrobatic stretch across the right goal line pylon.
"He decided instead of putting the football on the ground and risk missing a field goal, he just took off and ran with it," said Wright. "It was actually pretty spectacular to jump over three guys and make a real athletic play. That was a real good for us there."
The Culver defense was effective in countering the potent Millikan offense led by quarterback Qeanu Campbell-Caldwell, running back Qu'Juan Campbell and wide receiver Dylan Davis. The Centaurs were intent on slowing down the Millikan running game, allowing only 85 total rushing yards until the Rams' last possession.
"Our focal point was trying to take away their running game because their running back (campbell) posed a pretty big threat. He actually made some pretty big plays. It's hard to bottle up a very good player the whole game. For the most part we did enough to be able to control the game," said Wright.
Culver City took a seemingly commanding 28-9 lead later in the third quarter as wide receiver Kevin McGuire was on his way to setting a school record for most touchdown receptions in a season. McGuire caught a 3-yard touchdown off of a deflected pass in the back of the end zone from Eckhaus at 1:05 of the third quarter.
The Rams came roaring back with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to cut the Centaur lead to 28-22. The second drive was aided by a pass-interference penalty against Culver City on an incomplete fourth down play. Three plays later the Rams scored on a 3-yard pass to cut the lead to six.
The Centaurs were up to the task as Glaspie caught a short pass right, crossed back against the secondary and tore up the left sideline for 66 yards to the Millikan 14-yard line. On third-and-three Eckhaus threaded a 3-yard pass to wide receiver Tyler Luckett for the touchdown. McGuire threw a two-point conversion pass to Eckhaus on a well-executed double-reverse handoff from Ford.
McGuire set the school receiving record with his 14th touchdown of the season, breaking the mark held by five Centaurs with 13 touchdowns in a single season. The previous mark was held by Jasiri Rodell in 1994, Damien White – 2006, Antwon Moutra – 2007, Alex Jackson – 2010 and Charles Ross in 2017.
McGuire caught a 7-yard pass, increasing Culver's, 43-22 with 2:08 remaining in the game. Qu'Juan campbell left his mark on the Rams' next possession with an 80-yard run up the middle for a touchdown.
Ford wrapped up the game for the Centaurs with a 44-yard run
to the Millikan one-yard lin. He could have easily jaunted into the end zone but instead chose to keep the ball in play, allowing the offense to secure the game by running out the clock.
Wright: "He decided to keep the clock running so we could win the game. That was pretty unselfish of him."
Ford offered: "I was thinking about the Warren game, how I had scored and they came back: "Should I go down?" So I just slowed down a little."
The 2nd-ranked Centaurs (10-2) will host top-ranked Northview High 7:00 p.m. this Friday, November 16. The Vikings from Covina beat Warren High, 21-7, to advance. The Centaurs beat Warren in early September at Jerry Chabola Stadium, 34-28, and is unbeaten at home this season with a 7-0 record.
Wright: "Northview is undefeated. They're 12-0. They're a very good football team. They're the number one ranked team in our division. It's exciting to be playing at home again in the Semi-finals. We've been talking about finishing what we started and getting another opportunity. So we're excited.
Ford concluded: "That's the one thing about our team. We're very confident and have little doubt about what we can do. We're taking it one game at a time."