San Pedro takes tie for City title with Narbonne
As wild endings go, Saturday’s City Section Championship Division football final at the Coliseum produced a doozy.
San Pedro trailed by seven points against Harbor City Narbonne with 27 seconds left after taking over the ball on its own 45.
Quarterback Barry Heads frantically led the Pirates down the field with completions of eight yards, 11 yards and 21 yards.
As time ticked down, Heads spiked the ball, stopping the clock with one second left on the 15-yard line.
On the next play, he escaped the rush, rolled left and passed to Benjamin Weischedel in the end zone for a touchdown as time expired.
“It just fell into my hands,” Weischedel said. “It was in a spot where only I could catch it.”
City Section rules don’t permit overtime in the title game, but Coach Mike Walsh decided to go for the tie. Donald Jarrin made the conversion kick, forcing Narbonne and San Pedro to settle for a co-championship with a 21-21 final score.
“I did not have the right to deny these kids a chance to be City champions,” Walsh said. “I couldn’t do it after that comeback.”
San Pedro players didn’t know that there would be no overtime.
Narbonne players were stunned afterward, acting as if they had lost.
“I think there should be an overtime,” Narbonne Coach Manuel Douglas said. “It is what it is. I’m proud of these kids, and we didn’t lose. Technically, they didn’t beat us. That’s not consolation for these kids. We had control of the game and let it slip away.”
Narbonne (12-1-1) held a 21-7 lead in the fourth quarter on the strength of three touchdowns from running back Melvin Davis, who scored on runs of five and one yard and on a 17-yard pass reception.
But San Pedro (12-1-1) began its comeback when Cory Hughes intercepted a pass on the San Pedro 10 and returned it 69 yards. Then Heads connected with Weischedel on a 20-yard touchdown pass with 8:35 left.
Leading, 21-14, Narbonne stopped San Pedro on a fourth-and-six situation from the Narbonne 21 when Devon Wallace sacked Heads with 2:46 left. All the Gauchos had to do was run out the clock.
But Narbonne was forced to punt, setting the stage for Heads to get another chance.
No one should be surprised that these two Marine League rivals finished in a tie. The same ending occurred in league play, with regulation ending in a 6-6 deadlock, but because overtime is permitted in league play, Narbonne ended up winning in triple overtime, 27-24.
“If there are two teams more closely matched than Narbonne and San Pedro, I don’t know where it exists,” Walsh said.
One positive out of the tie is that the City Section probably will change its rules to permit overtime in the future.
That’s what happened when a tie occurred in the 1999 Southern Section Division I final between Long Beach Poly and Mater Dei, and Barbara Fiege, the City commissioner, said Saturday, “I believe it’s clear we need to look at the rule that has these teams end in a tie.”
The tie forces the City Section to submit both teams for consideration for a CIF state bowl berth.
“We wanted to win it,” Heads said, “but it’s better than losing.”