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A week after 106-0 win, Inglewood defeats St. Bonaventure in playoffs

Inglewood quarterback Justyn Martin breaks off a big run against St. Bonaventure during a CIF Southern Section Division 2.
Inglewood quarterback Justyn Martin breaks off for a big run against St. Bonaventure during a CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoff game at Ventura College on Friday.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Football fanatics couldn’t have been more pumped for the first high school football playoff game in two years Friday night at Ventura College. The scene was straight out of a mystery novel: thick fog, temperature in the 50s, the smell of 120 pounds of tri-tip grilling and two teams warming up in identical green jerseys (St. Bonaventure wore gold helmets, Inglewood white).

Inglewood eventually switched to white jerseys by kickoff for the Southern Section Division 2 playoff opener, and the No. 12-seeded Sentinels (9-0) proceeded to show they have no intention of being distracted by last week’s controversy in which they put up 106 points. They thoroughly outplayed the No. 5-seeded Seraphs and cruised to a 26-10 victory, setting up a quarterfinal game at El Camino College next week against Huntington Beach Edison.

Inglewood provoked a national debate about sportsmanship after defeating neighborhood rival Morningside 106-0 last week and going for a two-point conversion with a 104-0 lead. Inglewood’s principal, Debbie Tate, released a letter of apology on Monday, saying her school “did not conduct ourselves with sportsmanship and integrity.” The Southern Section condemned Inglewood’s actions and still is awaiting the results of a school district investigation.

Friday’s game was an attempt to move forward, and the Sentinels clearly did that. They turned loose their talented, college-bound athletes, from running back Tomarion Harden (UCLA commit) to linebacker Taariq Al-Uqdah(Washington State commit). Harden rushed for 132 yards in 20 carries and scored one touchdown. Al-Uqdah was all over the field on defense, scored two touchdowns and caught a two-point conversion pass.

Another impressive player was junior Jamari Johnson, who had two first-half sacks and caught a 60-yard pass from quarterback Justyn Martin (UCLA commit). Martin completed 14 of 23 passes for 188 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions.

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Inglewood’s quickness on defense and St. Bonaventure’s inability to generate a passing attack left the Seraphs down 20-3 at halftime. St. Bonaventure’s offense consisted of handing the ball 13 times to Delon Thompson, who rushed for 71 yards. He finished with 98 yards in 22 carries. St. Bonaventure’s only first-half score was a 28-yard field goal by Leilani Armenta after the Seraphs recovered a fumbled punt. The Seraphs lost starting quarterback Manny Rosales to an injury after a sack in the first quarter.

Harden had a 14-yard touchdown run and Justus Ross-Simmons caught a 15-yard touchdown from Martin to give Inglewood a 12-0 lead in the first quarter. That left St. Bonaventure unable to execute a game plan that was supposed to be about controlling the clock with an effective running game. Inglewood’s defense denied the big play other than a 28-yard run by Thompson. The Seraphs got a fourth-quarter touchdown after a Nick Miller interception.

Inglewood has gone from 0-10 in 2018 to one of the final eight teams in Division 2. The Sentinels played in Division 13 in 2019 and have continued their climb aided by newcomers.

Inglewood scored a final touchdown with 21 seconds left, then took a knee on a two-point conversion attempt.


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