The Crenshaw Cougars were unable to execute a back-to-back Championship win after falling to the Banning Pilots 28-35 in the Division I City Section Championships.
Pilots sophomore Kamari Westley mentioned how the squad put in effort throughout the season to excel.
“We was working hard, our linemen, lifting weights, great blocking,” Westley said.
On their first drive, the Cougars converted two third downs and persevered through penalties to reach the Pilots’ red zone. Crenshaw quarterback Donce’ Lewis fumbled and the Pilots offense started up on their own 26 yard-line.
Although they are called the Pilots, Banning kept their offense on the ground for most of the game with Westley being a key rusher. He made five carries before junior Pedro Ibanez made an eight-yard touchdown catch to put the Pilots on the board early in the second phase.
Lewis targeted senior Damarion Keyes-White and junior Roberto Salazar while senior Jeremiah Blackmon rushed to advance. On a fourth-and-goal, Lewis connected with Salazar for an eight-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at seven.
Banning responded on their next possession. Ibanez executed a 37-yard run to score, edging the Pilots to a 14-7 lead.
Crenshaw relied on the pass to advance with Salazar making a 26-yard touchdown reception to tie the game with 16 seconds left in the first half.
Banning made a resounding start to the third quarter with sophomore Steven Perez making a 66-yard touchdown run. The Cougars offense remained determined with Lewis scrambling for first downs and Blackmon making key gains. Senior Collington Tillett scored for the Cougars on a four-yard run to tie at 21.
On a first-and-15, junior Jordan Villanueva gave Banning the lead with a 66-yard rush to the endzone. Eight plays later, Lewis forced a tie at 28 with a touchdown scramble.
The Crenshaw defense contained the Pilots as the game went into the final phase. The Banning defense notched up their aggression as well. As the fourth quarter went on, the Banning offense relied on Westley and Perez to advance far into Crenshaw’s territory. Banning scored on a two-yard rush, pegging their score at 35.
With time running out in the game, Lewis sent darts to Blackmon and junior Aaron Brathold. At Banning’s 25-yard line, Lewis slung to the endzone but was picked off by Pilots senior Robert Guerrero.
Last year the Cougars clinched the Division III City Section title. This season, they finished with a 11-3 overall record and a 4-1 Coliseum League record. Banning heads to the Division 5-A State tournament and will host the La Jolla Country Day Torreys on December 2 at 7:00P.M.