By Jonathan Castro
The 78th Annual East LA Classic match-up between rivals Garfield and Roosevelt high schools was one to remember.
The game in front of almost 20,000 fans at East Los Angeles College’s Weingart Stadium, was decided with 31 seconds left during Roosevelt’s final drive.
On a fourth-and-six at 4:48 left in the game, Garfield tried to run the ball for a first down but it backfired.
The Roosevelt defense slammed shut the run after three yards.
Roosevelt had life at their-own 45-yard line and began what would be their final drive. Down 7-0, overtime was on everybody’s minds.
Roosevelt marched down the field. Quarterback David Arriaga mixed it up with runs and passes mostly to Walter Cano.
On a key first down, Arriaga connected with Cano at the Garfield’s 6-yard line.
The play that ensued would be the first game changer. Cano caught an apparent touchdown. The Roosevelt side had erupted.
The referees however called Cano out of bounds.
With no time outs left for either team, Arriaga tried to hit one of his receivers who was slanting towards the end zone followed by the second game-chamger.
Garfield’s Juan Munoz stepped in front of the play and intercepted the ball. With 31 seconds left, Garfield claimed its third consecutive Classic.
“We knew it was going be a hard fought battle and it was going to come up to a defensive stand. We also knew it was going to come up to that last play believe it or not,” Garfield Coach Lorenzo Hernandez said.
“We worked on that play all week in practice. It was mind-boggling thinking about how we were going to stop that play. Munoz came up and made a great stop,” said Hernandez.
After the game, both teams knelt together as someone led a prayer saying that both teams were “one” from the same community.
Roosevelt ends their regular season at the top of the Eastern League just ahead of South East High School.
“I was really proud of the team and Boyle Heights keeping Garfield to only seven points, staying very competitive. But we still have a lot of football left to play,” Roosevelt Coach Javier Cid said.
“The game televised by Time Warner cable, which meant commercial breaks. The game felt like it was much longer and was something some of the players weren’t use to,” Cid said.
Garfield scored on a power run by number Lance Fernandez with 4:24 left in the first half.
With this win Garfield won its fourth consecutive game snapping Roosevelt’s eight-game win streak. Garfield has a chance to tie Roosevelt for the league title with a win over Huntington Park on Friday.