HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: WEEK 9 : Kennedy Recovers in Time
The Kennedy High defense certainly didn’t look like one of the top defensive units in the City Section in the second half of a Northwest Valley Conference game with Taft on Friday night.
The Golden Cougars let Taft tailback Donald Carpenter, who was held to 14 yards rushing in the first half, run all over the field in the third quarter at Kennedy.
And they let the Toreadors mount a fourth-quarter drive that seemed destined to end Kennedy’s undefeated season. Taft had converted two critical third-down plays, one on a defensive holding penalty by Jaret Harris and another on a short pass from Nick DiPadova to Alex Scheer that turned into a 26-yard gain.
With less than four minutes left and Taft on the Golden Cougar 10, Kennedy Coach Bob Francola called a timeout, went onto the field and implored his defense to make one last big play.
DiPadova lost control of the ball as he pulled back from center, senior linebacker Damion Thompson recovered, Antwane Smith ran out the clock and the host Golden Cougars came away with a 17-11 victory to claim a share of the conference championship and remained unbeaten.
But not without a scare from Taft, which outgained Kennedy 126 yards to 77 in the second half.
Kennedy (9-0, 6-0 in conference play) appeared in control with a 14-3 halftime lead, the Toreadors’ only points coming after a recovered onside kick.
But Taft opened the second half by marching 68 yards in eight plays, including two 20-yard runs by Carpenter, the second for a touchdown. Carpenter’s two-point conversion pulled the Toreadors (6-2-1, 5-1) to within 14-11.
Carpenter, who finished with 88 yards in 16 carries, turned the corner often on a blitzing Golden Cougar defense.
Taft was able to slow down tailback Antwane Smith, who had 166 yards in 32 carries. But Kennedy was able to put together a drive early in the fourth quarter that ended with a 27-yard field goal by Ramiro Esqueda, who two weeks ago was kicking for the frosh-soph team.
Smith (21 yards) and Waking Bailey (seven yards) each rushed for a first-half touchdown.