Harbor City was the place to be Friday night to watch an extraordinary performance by 6-foot-2, 205-pound quarterback Khalil Tate of Gardena Serra. His future Arizona teammate, receiver DeVaughn Cooper of Narbonne, wasn’t too bad himself. They combined to score 10 touchdowns. And the game went to overtime.
Yeah, it was a wild night.
Narbonne went for the win in overtime, trying to convert a two-point conversion, but a fumbled snap enabled Serra to come away with a 41-40 victory in a South Bay shootout that had fans standing on both sides in rapt attention at the end.
Tate’s sixth touchdown run of the night, a four-yard scamper in overtime, gave Serra (3-1) a 41-34 lead. Cedric Byrd caught a six-yard touchdown pass from Roman Ale to cut the Cavaliers’ lead to 41-40. But the attempt to win on a two-point conversion fizzled from the start, and Serra players ran onto the field to celebrate.
Tate, a 16-year-old senior, rushed for 295 yards in 25 carries and added 195 yards passing. He had to leave the game briefly in the second half because of cramps.
Serra Coach Scott Altenberg has coached the likes of Adoree’ Jackson, Robert Woods and Marqise Lee, all of whom turned in memorable high school performances.
“This is right up there going in with a Willis Reed limp at the end,” Altenberg said. “It was unbelievable.”
In the first half, Tate made Narbonne tacklers look like outmanned Pop Warner players. Each time he took off running, the Gauchos made a futile attempt to take him down by grabbing an arm or a leg. Tate shook each off as if he were swatting away a fly.
He rushed for 220 yards in nine carries and scored touchdowns on runs of 51, 70, 27 and five yards.
He resembled a human battering ram. Narbonne safety Jamal Hicks twice confronted Tate, pulling him by his arm, then grabbing at his waist. Tate dragged and carried him, refusing to be pulled down until he reached the end zone.
Serra led at halftime, 27-19. Cooper’s nine-yard touchdown reception from Ale with two seconds left in the half got the Gauchos close. Cooper also had touchdown catches of 54, three and 50 yards. Ale passed for 318 yards and five touchdowns.
Freshman Max Williams of Serra came through with two interceptions in the first half.
“All week we preached speed,” Tate said. “We got to have speed, we got to have discipline and also determination to win a game like this.”
It was another tough ending for Narbonne (1-2), the City Section title favorite that lost its opener to Long Beach Poly, 20-17, on a final drive.
The Gauchos have come so close to beating two top teams. But on this night, there was no stopping Tate.