Birm­ing­ham seals vic­tory with late sack

Los Angeles Times - - NBA - eric.sondheimer@la­times.com Twit­ter: @lat­sond­heimer

BIRM­ING­HAM 20 SAN FER­NANDO 14 ERIC SONDHEIMER ON HIGH SCHOOLS

For nearly 21⁄2 hours in Granada Hills, with tiny red flames glow­ing from the dark­ness be­yond the west goal posts at John El­way Sta­dium, San Fer­nando and Birm­ing­ham put aside the fires, smoke, ten­sion and tur­moil tak­ing place nearby to en­gage in an emo­tional City Sec­tion Open Divi­sion foot­ball play­off game Fri­day night.

With the Pa­tri­ots cling­ing to a six-point lead, San Fer­nando faced a fourth down on the 24-yard line.

The Tigers had re­cov­ered an on­side kick af­ter an eight­yard touch­down re­cep­tion by Kyle Bryant with 1:04 left.

Quar­ter­back Adrian Lopez was in shot­gun for­ma­tion. Be­fore he could even think about throw­ing a game-ty­ing touch­down pass, fresh­man Arlis Board­ing­ham blitzed from the right side and sacked Lopez as a large Birm­ing­ham crowd roared its ap­proval.

There were 10 sec­onds left. Birm­ing­ham won 20-14.

With the win, Birm­ing­ham, now the best City team in the San Fer­nando Val­ley, has reached the Open Divi­sion semi­fi­nals.

“Huge win,” quar­ter­back Ja­son Ar­tiga said.

Birm­ing­ham will face No. 1 seed Nar­bonne next Fri­day at Nar­bonne.

Ar­tiga com­pleted 15 of 31 passes for 288 yards and two touch­downs with one in­ter­cep­tion. He also ran for a touch­down.

He was helped out by his out­stand­ing re­ceivers.

Ma­son White caught four passes for 109 yards, in­clud­ing a four-yard touch­down re­cep­tion with 3:26 left in the third quar­ter that wiped out a 7-6 deficit.

It was set up by a White 73-yard pass play in which he showed off his speed. White, 15, is one of the youngest ju­niors in the state.

Then there was se­nior Ab­dul La­teef Audu. He caught five passes for 121 yards, in­clud­ing a 26-yard touch­down in the sec­ond quar­ter.

Birm­ing­ham’s de­fense held San Fer­nando’s 1,000yard rush­ers, Bryant and Ne­hemiah Thomp­son, to 66 and 56 yards rush­ing, re­spec­tively.

“The whole year, they said we could not stop their run,” Ar­tiga said. “We did.”

The first half ended with San Fer­nando ahead 7-6. Both teams were one-di­men­sional on of­fense, with San Fer­nando re­ly­ing on the rush­ing game and Birm­ing­ham re­ly­ing on the pass­ing game.

Birm­ing­ham hadn’t played in 21 days, and the Pa­tri­ots’ re­ceivers looked rusty.

La­teef Audu dropped a po­ten­tial touch­down on Birm­ing­ham’s first of­fen­sive play. He was open by about 10 yards but couldn’t han­dle the long pass from Ar­tiga.

The Pa­tri­ots had an­other dropped pass in the end zone by Board­ing­ham. Both showed re­siliency by show­ing up when it mat­tered most.

The two schools com­bined have won eight City ti­tles. San Fer­nando hasn’t won an up­per divi­sion ti­tle since the great wish­bone teams of 1974 and 1975.

The Tigers have been wait­ing 17 years to play Birm­ing­ham since the last time the two schools met.

For­mer Birm­ing­ham coach Ed Cro­son, who guided the Pa­tri­ots to four City ti­tles, was on the side­line.

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