Crenshaw intercepts pass in the end zone with no time left to secure first state bowl title

Crenshaw running back Solomon Hassen rushed for 104 yards in 10 carries and caught seven passes for 88 yards.
(Steve Gazzulo / Los Angeles Times)

Star receiver Rayshawn Williams got most of the headlines for Crenshaw this fall, but it was his brother, Joseph, who made the biggest play of the season. He intercepted a pass in the end zone with no time remaining to seal the Cougars’ first CIF state bowl championship with a dramatic 46-43 victory over Auburn Placer in the Division 4-AA game Saturday night at Crenshaw High.

“It was the last snap, there were only five seconds left and I knew they had no choice but to throw it deep and I had to make a play,” Joseph, a defensive back, said. “This was the first state final played here in Los Angeles and we wanted to win this to honor all of the players who came before us and didn’t have this opportunity.”

The Williams brothers embraced and shared a quiet moment with their teammates before the trophy presentation.


Rayshawn also played a huge role, catching three passes for 53 yards and two touchdowns — including the game-winner from seven yards out with 1:41 remaining that capped a 12-play, 65-yard drive.

It was the 10th lead change, and Crenshaw made sure it was the last.

Isaiah Johnson completed 18 of 23 passes for 234 yards and five touchdowns and also ran for a score for the Cougars (12-3), who rebounded from a 48-7 loss to Harbor City Narbonne in the City Section Open Division final by upsetting Oceanside El Camino 13-10 in the regional playoffs.

Solomon Hassen rushed for 104 yards in 10 carries and caught seven passes for 88 yards, Shawn Prejean ran for a touchdown and caught a 59-yard touchdown pass and Dennis Patrick had four receptions for 100 yards and one score for Crenshaw, which lost its only other state bowl appearance to Concord De La Salle in the Open Division matchup in 2009.

Johnson capped the Cougars’ opening drive with a three-yard keeper, but Placer (13-2) answered on a 49-yard strike from Michael Stuck to Travis Warren.

Eight plays after recovering a Johnson fumble at the Crenshaw 35, the Hillmen took the lead on a five-yard dive by Andrew Garza. Johnson found Rayshawn Williams in the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown to tie the score 14-14 on the first play of the second quarter.

Prejean caught a 59-yard touchdown pass for Crenshaw to tie the score 21-21 midway through the second quarter. Johnson’s nine-yard toss to James Day gave the Cougars the lead back to open the third quarter.


Marshall Chapman capped an 80-yard, 13-play drive with a three-yard run to give Placer a 28-27 lead, but the Cougars answered 90 seconds later on Prejean’s three-yard scoring run. Placer regained the lead on Warren’s 56-yard touchdown catch, but Patrick’s four-yard scoring catch put Crenshaw back on top 40-35 with 10:04 left.

Chapman’s 15-yard run and Brad Bishop’s two-point conversion catch gave Placer its last lead at 43-40.

The Hillmen, the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV champions, overcame a 21-0 deficit to stun Salinas 43-42 in overtime in the regional playoffs.