Nick Delgadillo is mostly known for his defense, but it was his one-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter that lifted Garfield to a 24-21 victory over Eagle Rock on Friday night.
In a semifinal matchup between the only two remaining undefeated teams in the City Section, the sixth-seeded Bulldogs advanced to the Open Division championship game and clinched a regional bowl berth.
Garfield (12-0) now faces the Herculean task of dethroning top-seeded Harbor City Narbonne (9-3) in the final next Friday at 7 p.m. at El Camino College.
A senior linebacker and fullback, Delgadillo is the Bulldogs’ leading tackler, but he carried two defenders with him over the goal line with 3:04 left to complete a 61-yard, 12-play drive, then Garfield sacked quarterback Nathan Corrales twice on the Eagles’ final series to salt away a gritty road win.
Delgadillo recovered a fumble deep in Eagle Rock territory to set up the game’s first score — a 28-yard field goal by Fabian Munoz Rodriguez late in the first quarter.
Angel Hidalgo caught a 44-yard touchdown pass from Jonathan Bautista to make it 10-0 late in the second quarter, but second-seeded Eagle Rock answered on a 38-yard scoring strike from Corrales to David Montijo 38 seconds before halftime.
Josh Brown caught a seven-yard touchdown pass and Ethan Delgado scored on a one-yard sweep to give Eagle Rock a 21-10 lead. Garfield needed only three plays to respond, the last a 15-yard touchdown catch by Bruce Gonzalez that pulled the Bulldogs within four points and set up a frenzied fourth quarter.
Garfield punted five times in the first half but capitalized on several Eagle Rock miscues, including a missed 45-yard field-goal attempt by Edson Zamarron.
The Eagles (10-1) lost to Reseda Cleveland 55-54 in overtime in the Division II semifinals last year and have posted a 21-3 record over the last two seasons.
Eagle Rock won back-to-back Division II crowns in 2005-06 while Garfield won Division 2A in 1981 and Division II in 2007.