Prep Wrapup / Rob Fernas : West Torrance Takes Advantage of Torrance Mistakes to Win, 14-8

To say that West Torrance High’s football team had to fight for everything it got Friday night against visiting Torrance would be an understatement.

The Warriors even had to fight to run out the clock in their 14-8 victory.

Protecting the lead with 44 seconds left, quarterback John Walsh went down on one knee at his team’s 15-yard line. The whistle blew. The play was dead.

But an overzealous Torrance defender, trying to create a turnover, slammed into Walsh and touched off an intense brawl.

Fortunately, both coaching staffs did a good job of keeping the players who were not in the game from joining the fracas. Order was restored after about a minute, and officials wisely let the clock expire without another play.


Torrance Coach Rich Busia wasn’t happy about the way the game ended, but he understood his team’s frustration.

“We made some mistakes,” he said. “When you make mistakes. . . .”

Busia’s voice trailed off, but his point was clear. On a night it dominated the statistics, Torrance simply was its own worst enemy.

The Tartars outgained West in total yards (246 to 90) and first downs (10 to four) and controlled the game in the second half, when a conservative West offense managed only two net yards and one first down.

But mistakes continually kept Torrance off the scoreboard.

The Tartars lost a fumble at midfield in the first quarter, they failed on a fourth-and-five play at the West 37 midway through the second quarter, they fumbled the ball away at the West 29 later in the second quarter and they let the first-half clock run out without scoring from the West 5.

“In the first half we made some mental mistakes,” Busia said. “I thought we’d get the momentum in the second half.”

Getting the momentum against a well-coached team like West is easier said than done, however. The Warriors used two big plays--a 44-yard pass from Walsh to wide receiver Ryan Berry and a 57-yard punt return by Josh Moore--to set up two short touchdown runs by Moore and build a 14-0 halftime lead.

In the second half, West was content to sit back and let its defense take charge.

“Torrance is so physical, we knew they were going to get some yards,” West Co-Coach Mark Knox said. “Our game plan was to bend with them, but not to give up the big play.”

The Warriors’ bend-but-don’t-break defensive philosophy worked until Moore fumbled a punt and Torrance recovered at the West 32. On the next play, Tartar quarterback Rich Camou, who gave West fits with his scrambling, rolled to his right and hit receiver Brent Nunez with a touchdown pass in the end zone.

Camou’s two-point conversion run cut Torrance’s deficit to 14-8 with 5:54 left to play and drastically changed the momentum.

But Moore, who was beaten on the touchdown pass moments after he fumbled the punt, wasn’t through for the night.

After forcing West to punt, Torrance drove from midfield to the West 21, bringing up third-and-one with 1:39 remaining. Camou gave a play-action fake into the line and dropped back to pass, but the ball slipped out of his hand and he was sacked for an eight-yard loss by linebacker Matt Vincent.

Torrance’s final play gave Moore a chance to redeem himself. Camou tried another pass to Nunez in the right side of the end zone, but this time Moore jumped in front of the receiver and intercepted with 44 seconds left.

“It was an emotional, tough game,” Knox said. “It’s nice to come away with a win.”

Both teams will bring 2-1 records into league openers at home Thursday night. West faces fast-improving Mira Costa in an Ocean League game while Torrance meets always-tough Santa Monica in a Bay League opener.

How important is transfer Robert Coulter to Rolling Hills’ football team?

Well, for the third straight week the junior from Texas led the Titans in rushing. He had 182 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries Friday in a 36-6 win over North Torrance at Rolling Hills.

“He’s given us that big-play potential,” said Titans Coach Gary Kimbrell, whose team piled up 320 yards rushing and improved to 3-0 heading into its Bay League opener Thursday afternoon at Beverly Hills. “He has a lot of natural, instinctive ability. I’m not sure how fast he is, but he has the ability to cut back.”

Coulter demonstrated that ability almost at will against North, which fell to 0-3 and has now been outscored 93-13.

The 5-foot-11, 178-pound tailback scored on runs of 12 and 5 yards, and he helped set up touchdowns on runs covering 28, 47 and 31 yards as Rolling Hills built a 30-0 halftime lead. Coulter did not carry the ball after the Titans’ first series of the second half.

While Rolling Hills looked sharp, North suffered through another lackluster performance. The Saxons missed many tackles and did not score until 4:39 left, when Rolling Hills was playing its reserves.

“We’re not very good right now,” said Coach Don Bohannon, who pointed out that North was without two starters--a two-way lineman and a linebacker--because of injuries. “If things don’t get better, it’s going to be a long year.”

Carson Coach Gene Vollnogle moved preseason All-American Nkosi Littleton from outside linebacker to middle linebacker in Friday night’s game against Lynwood with successful results.

The 6-2, 220-pound senior responded to the move by leading the Colts (1-1) with 16 tackles, a fumble recovery and a deflected pass in their 16-6 triumph at Veterans Stadium.

Littleton replaced Harry Fuamatu, who played middle linebacker last week in Carson’s 24-23 loss to Bishop Amat.

“We think (Littleton) reacts to the ball better,” Vollnogle said. “Nkosi can run. He can outright fly. And he’ll be able to read the trap better.”

Junior outside linebacker Edgar Ta’ase also turned in an impressive effort, finishing with 14 tackles, a forced fumble and a sack.

Carson, which could not find an opponent, is idle this week. The Colts will open Southern-Pacific Conference play Oct. 6 against Washington.

Is it possible to be 0-3 and still be considered a favorite to capture the Ocean League title? In the case of the Morningside Monarchs, the answer would have to be a resounding Yes.

The Monarchs took highly regarded Leuzinger down the wire Friday night but suffered their third consecutive loss, 28-27, when they failed on a two-point conversion try with 2:20 left.

Morningside, which rallied from a 28-13 deficit in the last six minutes behind reserve quarterback John Cotton, has lost three games by a total of eight points.

Look for the Monarchs to finally break into the win column Thursday night when they visit winless North Torrance in an Ocean League opener.

In other games:

Mira Costa, under first-year Coach Larry Petrill, eclipsed its win total of 1988 by rallying for a 28-21 win over Beverly Hills. The Mustangs (2-1) were 1-9 last year. . . . Led by linebacker Sione Mahe, who had 10 tackles and two sacks, Hawthorne recorded its second consecutive shutout with a 19-0 win over Saugus. The Cougars (3-0) have outscored the opposition 55-7. . . . Running back Walter Grissam scored three touchdowns as Westchester (1-1) handed Narbonne (0-2) its 23rd straight loss in a 28-0 shutout. . . . Morningside isn’t the only team that will open Ocean League play after three close losses. South Torrance dropped its third game by a touchdown to Bishop Montgomery, 14-7. . . . With a 36-13 win over Gardena, Serra (3-0) has outscored opponents 122-20. . . . Despite having only 19 able-bodied players because of injuries, Mary Star (2-1) thumped St. Bernard, 32-0, behind four touchdowns by running back Matt Redlew.