Unbeaten San Fernando wins CIF L.A. City Section Division II title for second consecutive season with thrilling 34-32 win over upset-minded South Gate. Tigers now on the board as potential SoCal Division II bowl team.
RELATED: CIF SoCal Bowl Game Breakdowns | CIF NorCal Bowl Game Breakdowns | Updated CIF Bowl Game Rankings | Week 15 Top 25 scoreboard | St. John Bosco wins 1st section title | Chaminade shakes up bowl picture
San Fernando’s Christian Solano is known for his dual-threat ability as a quarterback. His ability with his legs and arm had lifted San Fernando to 17 consecutive victories, but it has a jarring hit on a fourth down pass by South Gate’s Alexander Flatos with 1:22 remaining in the L.A. City Division II title game which fell incomplete that was the biggest play of his stellar career. It clinched San Fernando’s 34-32 victory that gave the Tigers their second consecutive Division II title with a 18-game winning streak.
“I was going to go for the ball, but then I said to myself I’m going to hit this guy as hard as I can,” said Solano, who finished with 284 yards passing and one touchdown on 18-of-26 pass attempts. “That’s what champions are made of.”
“The kids weren’t tired,” San Fernando head coach Robert Garcia said. “We were up and down, but these kids have been through so many ups and downs in their life what tonight showed is they came overcome any adversity.
“When we have the ball we are dangerous.”
The problem for San Fernando was when it was on defense against upset-minded South Gate, which finished 3-3 and tied for fourth place in the Eastern League before going on a run in the playoffs. The Rams gained 398 total yards, including 127 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 17 carries by junior tailback Lavelle Thompson.
After San Fernando took a 20-6 lead on the first play of the second quarter on a nine-yard Solano run, the Rams stormed back and eventually took a 32-26 lead with 7:20 remaining on a short plunge by freshman RB Terrell Goins. It looked like South Gate was going to pull off the upset until an untimely fumble with 3:46 left that San Fernando recovered at its own 14-yard line.
The Tigers promptly drove 86 yards in six plays and RB Alex Gonzalez scored the game-winning touchdown on a seven yard sweep with 2:02 remaining that caught the Rams’ defense off guard when they were trying to make late substitutions.
With its victory, San Fernando is now eligible in the race for a SoCal Division II bowl berth. The Tigers likely need some help. First and foremost the plan for Serra of Gardena moving up to a SoCal open division berth after winning the CIF Southern Section Western Division title was dashed when the state’s No. 4 team was upset by Chaminade of West Hills on Friday night. That hurt San Fernando chances.
It would also help the Tigers’ chances if 13-0 Norwalk was upset in Saturday night’s Southeast Division championship by La Serna of Whittier. The other potential choices for the two SoCal Division II spots, including Chaminade, have losses.
Even if its season ended tonight, it was quite a ride for San Fernando and Solano in particular. On the season, Solano has 4,154 yards and 43 touchdown passes. South Gate sacked him four times, but he was still credited with 11 yards rushing and one touchdown on 14 carries. He has 1,390 yards rushing and 23 touchdowns. Solano’s 5,544 yards and 66 touchdowns accounted for both shattered single-season L.A. City Section marks.
Thompson finished his fine junior campaign for South Gate with 2,328 yards and 32 touchdowns on 198 carries.
In the Division I title game, Crenshaw of Los Angeles defeated Narbonne of Harbor City, 20-13, to capture its third L.A. City Section title in five years. The Shaw and Narbonne have won or shared the last six L.A. City major division titles.
Crenshaw, with four losses during the regular season, it not expected to have a realistic shot at a SoCal Division I bowl game berth.