(Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles, CA) September 8, 2021 [From The Editor’s Desk]: To Roosevelt Rough Rider fans, student-body, alumni members, and longtime community supporters, this was an added attraction to their 2021 football schedule. For some twenty years, the Riders had not played an opponent from the always dominant L.A. City Section’s Southern League, now known as the Coliseum League. That highly talented Southern League was renamed and re-aligned from its traditional “back in the day,” naming which featured prominent programs such as Dorsey, Manual Arts, Jefferson, Los Angeles, Washington, Fremont, and Crenshaw. All of these schools from that 50’s to the 80’s grand era, laid one of the great foundation pillars for excellence and achievement in the fabled and world renowned, LAUSD’s – CIF/L.A. City Section.
(Game Summary): The first quarter and the first possession by the Crenshaw Cougars resulted in Head Coach Robert Garrett’s perfectly designed air attack and “quick strike” offense that came from his QB/SR/#15/Zion Bennett to his speed merchant WR/SR/#13/Raiya Thomas for a 51 yard TD pass. Bennett then took the ball in for the 2 point conversion. The score at the (10:53) mark was Crenshaw 8 Roosevelt 0.
The Rough Riders started their first possession and managed to establish their “double wing” running attack, when #5/Jared Andrade, and #25 Johan Alfaro began to move the chains for first downs. This gave the Riders a good sense of what their opponents could, and could not do, to stifle or intimidate them, with their size and speed. The Riders stayed aggressive on offense and managed to put up their first score at the (6:03) mark in the period when JR/RB/Jared Andrade scooted in from 3 yards off right tackle. RB/Johan Alfaro then punched it in for the 2 point tying-game conversion. The score reflected (8-8) on the scoreboard.
Both teams then traded touchdowns in the final (5:50) left in the half. First, it was the Cougars special teams kick-off unit that scored when #21 Marlon Wilson, dropped the kick for a bobble, but picked it directly up and caught the Riders napping on the edge, and ran it back, nearly untouched, for a 90 yard kick-off return. The Cougars missed their 2 point conversion. Score now read, Crenshaw 14, Roosevelt 8. Then, with just (:40) seconds remaining to play, #5 Jared Andrade scored again, this time on a 3 yard sweep over right tackle behind #75/Daniel Cuevas & Co. That tied the score at (14-14). However, there was still time for some first half drama, when the Riders kick-off team pulled off what appeared to be a successful “on-side” kick, that caught the Cougars off guard, and #34/Julian Zepeda picked it up on a bounce and then drove forward for a few yards before being tackled. However, upon further review, after an officials’ committee meeting at mid-field, it was ruled Crenshaw ball due to a judgment that Zepeda had not let the ball travel the full 10 yards that are required by rule. The game was reset to first and 10 for Crenshaw at the RHS 49 yard line. Fortunately for the Riders, nothing resulted from Crenshaw on their final possession in the countdown to the half. With the sounding of the horn, both teams went into their locker rooms for the halftime intermission.
(Half-Time Score): Roosevelt 14 Crenshaw 14
The 3rd quarter was played to a scoreless stand-off but there were big plays made by both sides, on offense and defense, that were highlighted. One particular was the great fake “hand-off” that Riders’ QB James Cortez, made to his fullback, Alexander Arroyo, when he rolled left on a QB option. But, his fake drew the Cougars front line to him. Thus, after hesitating with the ball at the line of scrimmage, Arroyo sprinted all-alone down the field and was finally dragged down from behind after a 50 yard+ run. These big gainers gave the Riders great confidence in their offense game plan, and would be a big advantage to them for the remainder of the contest.
The dramatic final quarter was one to behold as everything would come down to momentum, proper execution, and the avoidance of game-changing plays that resulted in turnovers. At the (5:03) mark left, the Riders called on QB Cortez to run a QB sneak from the 1 yard line and he did so with success. The go-ahead TD, gave the Riders their first lead of the game. The regular PAT from PK/Punter, Angel Nolasco, was perfect for the seventh point to be added. It was now (21-14), RHS. Again, the Cougars regrouped and at the (2:40) minute left to play, they scored on their drive when QB/Zion Bennett swung to his far left on a roll-out, cut it back in, and made (3-4) Rider defenders miss him as he went in standing up for the score. Their 2 point try failed and were left behind by a single point, (21-20). The Riders would face their 2 minute drlll on the kick-off and were desperate to keep possession. However, on a 4th and 2, they did not make their 1st down. With that Nolasco was sent in to punt, but delivered a very poor punt that gave Crenshaw possession of the ball at the Riders 48 yard line. After a big pass completion to #13/WR/Ryai Thomas down to the 15 yard line, the Cougars were apparently in business and in full-threat to score the possible winning TD.
But the Riders defense stood up and held the Cougars to draw only as close as the 5 yard line before attempting their 4th and goal, “Hail Mary” pass to Thomas in the deep right corner of the end zone. Covering brilliantly on the play was #18/CB/Gabriel Gomez, who timed his leap perfectly and stepped up to bat it away for an incomplete pass. The clock was stopped with just (:01) second left and Riders ball. The stadium and the team were jumping for joy in triumph as the win would be earned once the offense took the final snap to end it.
And so, it couldn’t have come down to a more dramatic win than that, securing it on the final play of the game, and with only (:01) second left. It was truly one of the best games we’ve produced on East L.A. Sports Scene in quite some time—a “Top 5” rating is in order. The Riders victory also allowed them to learn how to protect their home field and use it to their fullest advantage.
Before ending our story, we want to acknowledge the excellent officiating crew led by its accomplished veterans, Referee, Robert Grier, and his staff, Umpire, Pedro Gomez, Head Linesman, Mike Lyman, Line Judge, Kyon Smith, and Back Judge, Bradley Bob. They are, and will always be, an essential and integral part of the game, and many times their work goes unnoticed. However, in keeping with the tenor and competitiveness of this match-up, they deserve the traditional “Tip of our Hat” for their Team’s performance.
(NextUp): The Riders travel across town into Southwest Los Angeles on Friday, 9/10, to take on the Dorsey Dons (2-0) at Jackie Robinson Stadium in another non-conference battle in preparation for the upcoming League opener. Kick-off is set for 7:00 pm. The L.A. City Section continues to remind that all fans planing to attend these types of LAUSD sporting events, that all must wear their mandatory masks or they will not be admitted.
At the time of this writing, we are hoping to cover this game via our normal presentation procedures…From “Live,” to video, then to editing, and then to eventual publishing, that can be seen in High Definition (HD) on our YouTube Channel at eastlasportsscene.com. We kindly ask that you subscribe on our channel for all future games that we cover during this 2021 Football season.
(Special Thanks To): Erik Sarni, EastsideMedia.TV for usage of Roosevelt‘s second Touchdown and the On-side Kick-Off that took place after the score.