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Taft High Is No Match for Banning : * Football: In rare home night game, Pilots score early and often in 27-0 victory.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

It has been years since Banning High played a game at its campus facility. In light of the team’s popularity in the football-happy Wilmington community, games have been moved to larger stadiums to accommodate the large and manic crowds that the Pilots draw.

Thursday night, Banning played its first home game since the mid-1980s, and the home cooking tasted just fine.

The Pilots rolled over Taft, 27-0, in a nonleague game.

Banning stayed home largely because of budget cutbacks in the L.A. Unified School District. The school could save money on stadium and bus rental by playing at home.

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There was no adjustment period: the Pilots slammed into Taft like a runaway bus. If this was a Banning (3-0) homecoming game of sorts, then there were plenty of nominees for king.

Quarterback Vaimagalo Faavi-Tua’au rushed for 77 yards in 12 carries and running backs Larry Rayford (91 yards in 17), Shayzar Hawkins (70 in 12), Brandon Moore (46 in eight) and Chris Smith (18 in two) led the option offense. All but Faavi-Tua’au scored once on runs.

“We’re very happy with the way the backs are playing right now,” Banning Coach Joe Dominguez said. “The whole team is progressing and improving.”

Banning, ranked No. 1 in the South Bay by The Times, jumped to a 20-0 halftime lead and cruised thereafter. It could have been even more lopsided: the Pilots had two touchdowns nullified by penalties in the second half, including a 70-yard punt return by Smith.

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Truthfully, things didn’t necessarily improve for Banning in the second half, but it didn’t matter much, either. Banning held Taft to 66 yards and totaled 345.

“The second half was pretty even,” Taft Coach Larry Stewart said. “We’re improving, and you don’t get better unless you play good teams like Banning.”

Banning’s nickname may be the Pilots, but there was no need to go airborne against Taft. Faavi-Tua’au completed two of three passes for 34 yards.

Taft quarterback Karlon Mack, harassed in the pocket throughout, completed only four of 15 passes for 46 yards and had two passes intercepted. It wasn’t any easier on the ground for the Toreadors, who were led by fullback Aldon Bordenave’s 27 yards in eight carries.

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Banning pounded Taft from the outset, scoring on its first three offensive possessions--and its first defensive series as well.

The Toreadors managed only two first downs in the first half, one of which came on a Banning penalty, but finished the half with minus-eight yards.

The first Taft possession set the tone. After two incomplete passes and a six-yard loss on a sack of Mack, the snap from center sailed past punter Randy Johnson and through the end zone for a safety.

Three Banning players scored on the ground in the half. Rayford scored on a one-yard run through the middle for an 8-0 lead with 8 minutes 4 seconds left in the first quarter.

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Moore followed by scoring on a nine-yard run around left end for a 14-0 lead with 3:31 remaining in the quarter. On the Pilots’ next possession, Hawkins dived over the top from one yard out for a 20-0 lead at the half.

Hawkins’ dive finished off a 13-play, 61-yard drive.


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