Sean Riley rushed for 127 yards in 11 carries, and Cedric Byrd caught touchdown passes of 19 and 35 yards in the first half to lead Harbor City Narbonne to its fourth consecutive City Section Division I final with a 14-10 victory over Garfield on Friday night in East Los Angeles.
On fourth-and-long, Darien Butler shoved Garfield receiver Jordan Palmer out of bounds just short of the first down at the 20-yard line, and the third-seeded Gauchos took over on downs with 18.3 seconds left in the game. Narbonne (9-4) will try to avenge a 39-35 Marine League defeat to fourth-seeded Carson (10-3) in the championship game next Saturday at the Coliseum.
“I was trying to cover the back sideline as best I could and get to him,” Butler said. “When he was short, I was really happy.”
Roman Ale completed five of 11 passes for 115 yards, including a 19-yard pass to Byrd in the corner of the end zone that gave the Gauchos a 6-0 lead with 4:33 left in the first quarter, but the extra point was blocked. The pair hooked up again when Byrd caught a pass over the middle and made several defenders miss on his way to the end zone.
“I didn’t have a great game last week, so this feels great,” Ale said. “Cedric had two big catches. If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t have won.”
Stevie Williams completed 15 of 19 passes for 189 yards, including a 30-yard touchdown pass to Chris Alexander exactly halfway through the third quarter that pulled the second-seeded Bulldogs (10-3) to within 14-10. Aaron Rocha made a 27-yard field goal late in the second quarter for Garfield, which held seven opponents to 14 points or less.
“I thought we’d go down the field and score on that last drive,” said Williams, who also rushed for 86 yards in 15 carries. “I was staying positive. Their blitz was giving me trouble. That’s the best team we’ve played this year.”
Albert Molina had 71 yards rushing in 23 carries and caught four passes for 18 yards while Alexander caught three passes for 79 yards for Garfield.
Jabari Minix had three touchdown runs and a touchdown pass for Carson in its 33-30 victory over top-seeded San Pedro in Friday’s other Division I semifinal.
“I wish we’d won last year because we’d be going for four in a row, but this is our fourth straight final, and that’s still a great accomplishment,” said Narbonne Coach Manuel Douglas. “Garfield’s a tough team, and the semifinals is the toughest game. The championship game is icing on the cake.”
Narbonne has beaten Carson three consecutive years in the playoffs, in the semifinals the last two seasons and 48-32 in the finals in 2011.