Faith Baptist High fumbled away the Southern Section eight-man Large Schools Division championship Saturday afternoon before a home crowd as Rio Hondo Prep won convincingly, 35-6.
The Contenders (9-2) committed seven turnovers, including six fumbles. The first two fumbles were deep in Rio Hondo territory and negated possible touchdowns.
"We have a high-risk offense, so we expect some mistakes," Faith Baptist Coach Greg Weiss said. "But this many was unusual even for us. They killed us, I know. Rio Hondo was a good team. They just played better on defense."
The championship was the first for Rio Hondo (10-0) since 1982. Faith Baptist was making its first title-game appearance since 1985.
Faith Baptist scored first, taking the opening kickoff 53 yards in six plays. Sophomore running back James DeCarriere put the Contenders ahead, 6-0, on a seven-yard run up the middle.
Rio Hondo answered, driving 65 yards in 10 plays. Senior running back Rick Johnson scored on a seven-yard run to give the Kares a 7-6 lead.
With his team trailing, 15-6, in the second quarter, Faith Baptist quarterback Gavin Amos fumbled on the Rio Hondo one-yard line as he was going for an apparent touchdown. Rio Hondo couldn't move the ball and the Contenders were driving again when DeCarriere fumbled at the Kares' one.
Rio Hondo then drove 79 yards in 13 plays--an 80-yard field is used in eight-man football--capped by Johnson's one-yard run, to give the Kares a 22-6 halftime lead.
"Those two fumbles really lifted us," Rio Hondo Coach Randall Johnson said. "We were hot and tired in the second quarter and that just gave us some necessary energy."
Things didn't get any better for Faith Baptist in the second half. On the Contenders' first possession, junior receiver Darren Wyre fumbled after catching a 15-yard pass over the middle.
Faith Baptist turned the ball over on its next four possessions, giving Rio Hondo advantageous field position the rest of the game.
Rio Hondo rolled up 294 yards in 59 rushes. Johnson finished with 126 yards in 26 carries and two touchdowns. He also kicked three extra points. Junior Mike Whiteside rushed for 150 yards in 24 carries and had touchdown runs of 18, five and six yards.
Junior running back Alex Estrada led Faith Baptist with 70 yards in 12 carries. Amos completed 12 of 17 for 138 yards.