Going against Cleveland High, Taft wanted to prove itself worthy of the Northwest Valley Conference lead.
The Toreadors (5-1-1, 4-0 in the conference) defeated teams with a combined record of nine games under .500 in their first three conference games.
Taft may have proved its point when Jaime Mena kicked a 29-yard field goal with 5:51 left Friday night to give the Toreadors a 24-21 victory over the Cavaliers.
“This was a big win for our program,” Taft Coach Troy Starr said. “This shows that our young kids are maturing.”
Cleveland (3-4, 1-3) had a chance to regain the lead, but quarterback Junior Brignac, who had 126 yards in 19 carries, came up four yards short on fourth down and 27 with 1:28 left.
Taft held Brignac to 42 yards in the second half and recovered a fumble that set up Donald Carpenter’s one-yard run to tie the score, 21-21.
Brignac’s 18-yard scoring strike to Alex Kalinowski gave Cleveland a 21-14 halftime lead.
Cleveland scored earlier in the quarter on a 32-yard halfback option pass from Sidney Smith to Kalinowski. Brian Jones took the ensuing kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown and it was 14-14.
Cleveland’s Keewan Irving, who had 110 yards in 12 carries, scored from the one in the first quarter and Taft countered with a 44-yard run by Jones.