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Liberty edges Sierra Canyon 19-17 for 1-A title

Liberty edges Sierra Canyon 19-17 for 1-A title
Sierra Canyon quarterback Chayden Peery dives for a first down versus Liberty defender John Fio. (Steve Gazzulo / For The Times)

Chatsworth Sierra Canyon has gone as far as EJ Gable’s legs have taken it — all the way to the Division 1-A state football final.

The star tailback put the team on his back one last time but the Trailblazers came up a couple of plays short in a 19-17 loss to Brentwood Liberty on Saturday night at Cerritos College. Gable ran for 170 yards in 24 carries.

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“We’ve been dominant up front all year long and we ran the ball well but we had issues with protection tonight,” Sierra Canyon coach Jon Ellinghouse said. “It was a tight game. We shot ourselves in the foot a couple times and there was a turnover we’d like to have back. We just didn’t get it done.”

Gable entered the game having rushed for 1,520 yards and 23 touchdowns and wasted little time adding to those totals against theLions (13-1), who boasted an outstanding tailback of their own in Tyerell Sturges-Cofer. Sturges-Cofer gained 188 yards in 21 carries and cut his team’s deficit to 17-13 on a 31-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter, then put his team ahead for the first time, 19-17, on an 11-yard run with 7:55 remaining.

Sierra Canyon running back Brendon Gamble runs for a first down against Liberty.
Sierra Canyon running back Brendon Gamble runs for a first down against Liberty. (Steve Gazzulo / For The Times)

Sierra Canyon quarterback Chayden Peery fumbled on a blindside hit on the team’s first drive. Liberty recovered at the Trailblazers’ 48-yard line but Sierra Canyon forced a three-and-out.

Sierra Canyon proceeded to march 87 yards in 15 plays, using more than six minutes on the clock and scoring on Peery’s one-yard sneak. Peery completed eight of 16 passes for 75 yards.

Liberty, the North Coast Section Open Division runner-up, needed one play to answer when Sturges-Cofer raced 72 yards for a tying touchdown.

John Bryan booted a 24-yard field goal to move the Trailblazers (2-4) back in front 10-7 with 1:36 left in the first half.

Brendon Gamble sprinted 22 yards for a touchdown to increaseSierra Canyon’s lead to 17-7 with 9:12 left in the third quarter. DJ Harvey intercepted a pass by Jay Butterfield on the next Liberty drive but the Trailblazers were unable to capitalize. Gamble was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-four at the Liberty 37 with under four minutes left and Sierra Canyon never got the ball back.

Sierra Canyon beatCajon 34-30 to win the Southern Section Division 3 championship, then bottled up Upland’s offense in a 7-3 victory in the Southern California regional game Dec. 1.

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