City Football Championship Ends in Last-Second Tie

The Harbor City Narbonne Gauchos and San Pedro High School Pirates will share the Los Angeles High School Football crown after fighting to a 21-21 tie in Saturday's 2008 Los Angeles City Football championship game at the Coliseum.

With one second to go, San Pedro Pirates quarterback Barry Heads hit receiver Benny Weischedel in the left corner of the end zone.

Coach Mike Walsh then decided against a two-point conversion that would have won the game -- or lost it if the play failed -- and instead allowed place kicker Donald Jarrin to kick the extra point, knotting up the score. There is no overtime in the championship game.

Both teams ended the season with records of 12-1-1.

The thrilling game was worth the money.

City Councilman Tom LaBonge donated $5,000 from his office account to help rent the Coliseum for the game. The tradition of playing the championship game in the Coliseum had been threatened by the Los Angeles Unified School District's budgetary problems.

"It costs $30,000 to $40,000 to open the doors to the L.A. Coliseum, and they cannot spend one dollar that they don't take in," LaBonge, a former captain of the John Marshall High School football team, said earlier. "When I heard these kids would miss this game, I thought something had to be done."

The game was a defensive struggle in the first half, which ended with Narbonne leading 6-0 on a 5-yard run by running back Melvin Davis. The extra point was missed.

Early in the third quarter, Narbonne turned the ball over when Gaucho running back Thomas Gray fumbled a hand-off from quarterback Josh Moten deep in their own side of the field.
  
Eventually, Pirates running back Joseph Deguchi scored on a 12-yard scamper. The extra point was successful and San Pedro led 7-6.

Narbonne scored again, aided by a 25-yard run by Moten and a fourth down conversion. Davis bowled his way into the end zone for a two-point conversion, and the Gauchos went back on top 14-7.

A fumble by San Pedro fullback Ryan Stanovich near the Pirates 30-yard line led to a 19-yard pass completion from Moten to Davis, and the Gauchos led 21-7.

The Pirates seem to be in dire straits when they failed to convert a fourth-down conversion at the Gauchos 42-yard yard line.

But as the Gauchos were marching down the field for another score in the fourth quarter, Moten threw an interception deep in Pirates territory. Moten was able to tackle defensive back Corey Hughes, but not before Hughes was able to sprint to the Narbonne 21 yard line.
  
Heads threw a touchdown pass to Weischedel with a little over eight minutes left in the fourth quarter, making the score 21-14 in favor of Narbonne.

San Pedro was unable to convert a fourth-and-six play at the Narbonne 21 yard line when Heads was sacked with 2:46 left, but the Pirates got the ball back on a punt with 27 seconds left.

Heads completed passes of eight, 11 and 21 yards, and then rolled out and tossed a 15-yard touchdown pass to Weischedel with one second left, leading to the tie when the extra point was kicked successfully.
  
"I did not have the right to deny these kids a chance to be City champions," Walsh told the Los Angeles Times. "I couldn't do it after that
comeback."

Narbonne players appeared stunned after the game, and Narbonne Coach Manuel Douglas told The Times he believes the rules should be changed so there is an overtime if needed in the championship game.

"It is what it is," he said. "I'm proud of these kids, and we didn't lose. Technically, they didn't beat us. That's not consolation for these kids. We had control of the game and let it slip away."

The two Marine League rivals also tied at the end of regulation in league play, but Narbonne was able to win in triple overtime, 27-24.

"We wanted to win it," Heads told The Times. "But it's better than losing."

The game will be aired at 9 p.m. Sunday on the Los Angeles cable access Channel 36.

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