Playoff battles remain intense in 28-6A football; Harlan loses first district game

By Pat Turner

Nothing is close to being decided in District 28-6A as all four playoff positions as well as the league crown are still uncertain.

However, some teams improved their situations this past week. O’Connor (7-0, 6-0) remained in the top spot with a 33-18 win over Marshall (2-5, 1-5). Brennan (5-2, 5-1) and Warren (6-1, 5-1) kept their title hopes in good standing after overcoming tense moments.

The Bears needed a second-half rally to register a 42-28 victory over Clark (2-5, 2-4). Defense was Warren’s salvation in holding off Taft (3-4, 2-4) for a 10-7 win.

Brandeis (5-2, 4-2) kept its playoff hopes alive with a 48-21 victory over Holmes (0-7,0-6) and Jay (4-3, 3-3) stayed in the picture by topping Stevens (3-4, 2-4),

Warren 10, Taft 7

The Warriors survived against Taft by using Kingowen Cabrera’s late field goal and relying on the defensive heroics of Eli Huron, Caleb Williams, Jason Coronado, Josiah Gutierrez-Smith and Traquan Banks.

Warren scored midway through the first quarter when Anthony Cisneros capped a seven-play, 44-yard drive with a 10-yard run.

After that, Warren struggled to get anything going as Taft’sJose DeLaVega, Nathan Cano, Kris Sanchez, Isaiah Picasso and Alec Collins shut down the progress.

In the meantime, Taft came up with the tying touchdown, thanks to a blocked punt by Klyde Jones at Warren’s 27.

Taft scored quickly, but a holding penalty wiped out the TD and pushed the Raiders back to the 12.

Carlos Herrera, however, came through for Taft. He zipped an 11-yard pass to JC Alacorn to set up Divonne Tilden’s 1-yard plunge.

From that point, the defenses took the spotlight. Taft appeared to be on its way to the go-ahead touchdown, but Banks foiled that opportunity with a pick in the end zone.

The Warriors then started eating up the clock, moving from its 10-yard line to Taft’s 13 behind the running of Cisneros and Te’lem Turner, along with two pass interference calls.

Even under those circumstances the drive stalled as Picasso and Cano came up with stops. Still, the Warriors had something to show for the effort as Cabrera booted a 30-yard field goal.

Then, it was a matter of the Warren defense holding off Taft’s comeback bid. Herrera moved the Raiders to the Warren 13, but then things turned sour. A holding penalty pushed Taft to the 23 and a wild snap put the Raiders farther back.

Huron then iced the win by stepping in front of a pass.

“Everybody on the defense was contributing,” Huron said. “We had to overcome some adversity. This was a big win for us.”

O’Connor 33, Marshall 18

O’Connor overcame a sluggish beginning to stay perfect in district play.

The Rams stung the Panthers for a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on Bernard Dankey’s 21-yard touchdown run.

O’Connor moved in front with Jefflin Leslie’s 32-yard field goal and two touchdown runs by Zio Taylor for a 17-6 lead.

Marshall pulled within 17-12 on Dylan Pooeres’ 57-yard touchdown run, but O’Connor finished strong.

David Dodd fired a 12-yard touchdown toss to Chase Locke and J’onta Waller foiled a potential Marshall score when he stepped in front of a pass and sprinted 95 yards to the end zone. Taylor, who rushed for 189 yards, added his third touchdown on a 1-yard dive.

Marshall’s final touchdown came on Danky’s 9-yard run.

O’Connor looks to move closer to the title in Saturday’s contest against Clark.

 Brennan 42, Clark 28

Brennan overcame an early 14-point deficit with timely offensive work to rally past Clark.

Brennan (5-2, 5-1) got into a 14-0 hole when the Cougars (2-4, 2-5) stunned the Bears on Benjamin Hooper’s 4-yard touchdown run and David Santos’ 3-yard scamper.

Brennan started showing offensive life in the second on Joshua Lopez’s 5-yard run. Clark came back with Santos’ 5-yard touchdown pass to Kenneth Bivens Jr. to regain its 14-point edge.

The Bears, however, finished the half on a high note when Jordan Flores, who completed 5 of 7 passes for 142 yards, threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Smith to close within 21-14.

That turned out to be the beginning of the Flores-Smith Show.

After Lopez tied the score on a 7-yard run, Flores and Smith hooked up on a 88-yard strike following a stout defensive stand by the Brennan defense for a 28-21 lead.

Brennan’s offense kept churning. Flores found Smith for a 12-yard touchdown pass and Javon Grimes added a 1-yard scoring plunge for a 42-21 advantage.

Clark scored in the fourth quarter on Hooper’s 39-yard touchdown pass to Luke Gibson.

Brandeis 48, Homes 21

Any concerns about Brandeis suffering lingering side effects from last-week’s 30-28 last-second loss to O’Connor ended in the first 24 minutes this past Thursday.

The Broncos made it clear they had put the loss on the shelves by exploding for 35 first-half points.

Because of the quick recovery, Brandeis remains alive and well in the battle for a 28-6A playoff spot. The Broncos play Warren Friday. 

The Broncos (5-2, 4-2) gave the first indication immediately when Josh Suarez took the opening kick and sprinted 95 yards for a 7-0 lead.

Jordan Battles got the offense cranking with his running-passing heroics. The sophomore quarterback, who rushed for 141 yards and threw for 71, scored on touchdown runs of 1 and 18 yards for a 21-0 lead.

He added a 20-yard scoring sprint in the second quarter, while J. Nova Rangel added a 1-yard TD plunge.

Battles struck for a 20-yard touchdown gallop in the third period and Brett Mathis contributed to the offensive output with a 33-yard TD pass to Kris Bower.

Holmes finished second half with touchdowns from DQ Haney (7 yards), Josh Busto (2 yards) and Christopher Melero (15 yards).

“We came back and competed,” Brandeis coach David Branscom. “I knew our kids would be fine. We had to put the lost behind us, because we have to fight for our lives. The kids understand this and they’re working to get better.”

Jay 33, Stevens 14

A productive offense enabled Jay to get back on track following a loss to Warren.

Quarterback Jacob Zeno, who passed for 139 yards and three touchdowns, and Jaylin Hastings (203 yards rushing) provided the balance to ignite the offense.

Zeno got Jay started with touchdown passes to Marcus Alvarez (26 yards) and Jonathan Huron (14 yards) for a 12-0 lead.

Stevens pulled within 12-7 in the third quarter on Clarence Lee’s 2-yard run.

Things came to life offensively in the final period.

Zeno scored on a 1-yard run and the Mustangs’ defense also got into the act second later when Jayshawn Darby found the end zone on a 35-yard fumble return.

Stevens kept its chances of a comeback hopeful when Carson Prouty’s 4-yard touchdown run close the deficit to 27-18.

Jay sealed the deal minutes later when Zeno tossed a 6-yard TD pass to Hastings.

Harlan falls, 7-3

Harlan’s defense turned in a standout performance during this past Saturday’s District 14-5A Division I contest with Eagle Pass Winn.

However, the Hawks’ offense didn’t follow suit. That lack of scoring punch proved costly as Winn left Farris Stadium with a 7-3 win, knocking Harlan (5-2, 2-1) out of its share of the league lead with Southwest.

Harlan’s offensive struggles began in the first half, but Winn wasn’t successful either as Hawk defenders Jaden Jackson, Donovan Harris, Samuel Carter and Alexander Linares kept the Mavericks from moving consistently.

Winn managed to get on the scoreboard when defensive end Ricardo Morales leaped for an interception and ran 45 yards to the end zone for a 7-0 lead.

Another break came Winn’s way later in the half when a bad snap on a punt put the Mavericks at Harlan’s 28.

Winn was unable to take advantage of the gift. Nathaniel Cedillo came up with a sack and two holding penalties also hurt the Mavericks. Zane Svoboda completed the escape with an interception.

A break came Harlan’s way minutes later when Kaiden Spencer fell on a Winn fumble at the Mavericks’ 19.

The Hawks, who had a penalty wipe out an earlier touchdown pass, were the victim of the flag again.  However, Harlan didn’t go away empty-handed as Alejandro Garcia connected on a 36-yard field goal to close the deficit to 7-3.

The Hawks were unable to build any momentum in the second half, even though there were opportunities. The outlook for a late comeback appeared favorable when Harlan halted a late Winn drive.

Hopes of a victory ended when a tipped pass turned into an interception.

“Our defense did an amazing job,” Harlan coach Eddie Salas said. “We didn’t execute on offense. I don’t think we threw a good pass all night.”

Harlan looks for a quick recovery in Friday’s contest with Southwest Legacy.

“We’re going to go back and regroup,” Salas said. “We’ll use this as a springboard and talk about how this loss feels. Our guys will bounce back.”

For images from the games you can go here

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