Jarmal Julien rushed for 173 yards, including a back-breaking 75-yard touchdown near the end of the third quarter, and Oakland McClymonds High pulled away from Garfield 32-6 on Saturday night at Laney College to win the CIF 4-A championship.
For the Bulldogs (13-2), it was a nightmarish end to a dream season. Garfield won the Eastern League and had an undefeated regular season.
“To me, it’s still surreal,” Bulldogs coach Lorenzo Hernandez said. “It hasn’t sunk in.
“We’ve just been grinding at work. In January, to say this team was going to be in Oakland in December, I don’t think I would have believed it. But we just had a group of kids who just continued to fight and just work hard on the practice field as well as in the classroom. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
The magic appeared to be continuing Saturday. Late in the third quarter, Garfield trailed just 12-6 with its defense repelling the Warriors again and again.
McClymonds had the ball on the Bulldogs’ side of the field on every possession but the final one.
Then, Julien went to work, taking a simple counter run to the right, cutting to the left and outrunning the entire Garfield defense.
“It seemed to happen in slow motion,” Julien said. “I saw the hole, I hit it. Our whole team, if one of us is successful, all of us are successful.”
It’s the third consecutive CIF title for McClymonds, with different personnel leading the way each year. The Warriors (12-2) had to overcome the loss of several key players from last year’s championship team as well as a midseason injury to starting quarterback K’aun Green.
Enter freshman Dreyan Paul. All he did Saturday was complete 11 of 18 passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns.
But the key was the McClymonds defense, which held Garfield to 126 total yards.
The running game never got going, the passing game never got going and it seemed like Warriors defensive lineman Mark Hoching spent the entire night in the Bulldogs’ backfield.
And yet, the game was a battle until Julien’s big run. Jason Morago had two key sacks for Garfield, which made the plays it needed to make to stymie McClymonds.
“Just the defense stepping up,” Morago said. “We had bad field position a lot of times, but the defense stepped up each time.”