NCS roundup: Top-seeded De La Salle advances to Open Division championship game.
Despite giving up 17 points in the first seven minutes of the game, Pittsburg High found itself still within striking distance midway through the third quarter of Friday’s North Coast Section Open Division semifinal at De La Salle.
Then the Shamar Garrett Show happened.
De La Salle’s two-way junior rushed for 65 yards on his first three carries of the second half, scoring on a 32-yard run with 4:07 left in the third quarter. One minute later, he intercepted a pass by Pittsburg’s Jerry Johnson and returned it 38 yards to the Pittsburg 27-yard line. Two plays later, he threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Grant Daley on a halfback option play.
The three-minute flurry put the game on ice as the Spartans cruised to a 38-0 victory that was played despite the smoky conditions in the East Bay. They advance to play the winner of Saturday’s semifinal between Clayton Valley and Liberty.
“He’s just a really good player and he’s a good athlete,” De La Salle coach Justin Alumbaugh said of Garrett. “I’ve been saying it all year — he’s just a different kid this year. He’s more positive and he’s buying in more. The sky’s the limit with him.”
Garrett finished the night with 76 yards on 10 carries. The touchdown pass was his second of the season, on two attempts. But he wasn’t happy Daley had to dive for the catch.
“I messed up a little bit on the throw,” Garrett said. “I didn’t mean to lob it that far. (Daley) made a great catch.”
De La Salle (11-0) led just three plays into the game when Dorian Hale hit Lu Hearns on a bubble screen and Hearns broke two tackles before going 86 yards for a score. Hale scored on a 24-yard run on the team’s next possession.
Pittsburg (7-4) was able to keep things close for nearly two quarters with a strong defensive effort. However, the offense struggled most of the night against a De La Salle team that posted its fourth shutout of the season.
The Pirates’ best chance at a score came on the opening possesssion of the first half. Pittsburg drove 71 yards on 10 plays for a 1st-and-goal at the 9-yard line. But a fumbled snap and delay-of-game penalty killed its momentum and the drive ended with a missed 35yard field-goal try.
“Really, it could’ve been a game right there,” Pittsburg coach Vic Galli said. “We had our opportunity to make it a game. Our kids didn’t quit and we played hard.”
Pittsburg was without defensive lineman Jacob Bandes because of a hip injury. Bandes was holding up play cards for the offense.
De La Salle’s unbeaten streak against Northern California foes improved to 299 games.