Another East Los Angeles Classic, another big night for Lance Fernandez.
The Garfield High School tailback ran for 152 yards and four touchdowns on 22 rushing attempts to lead his team to a 29-15 victory over Roosevelt last Friday in the 77th meeting between the Eastside rival high schools.
His 75-yard touchdown run with 1:28 remaining secured the win and cleared a good portion of the Roosevelt side of East Los Angeles College stadium.
It was nearly a repeat of the game Fernandez had in 2010 when he rushed for 173 yards and two touchdowns in Garfield’s 13-3 win.
But he was surprised to have another big game against the Bulldogs’ archrival.
“I’m really kind of in shock right now,” he said. “I have to give thanks to the offensive line, my coaches and our defense.”
Garfield improved to 5-5 overall and with a 5-1 finish secured at least a second-place finish in the Eastern League, and a spot in the City Section Division I playoffs that begin Nov. 17.
Roosevelt fell to 5-4 and 3-2 in league, and has a game remaining at Bell on Friday night. The Rough Riders need a victory and then will hope they receive an at-large playoff berth.
A steady rainfall prior to the game kept attendance down to an estimated 16,000, but the stadium’s artificial turf was firm and dry and to the liking of the ground-oriented Bulldogs. Fullback Larry Ravelo added 95 yards rushing on 16 carries.
“Lance really stepped up for us tonight, and Larry is a tank, he’s really amazing,” Hernandez said.
They ran behind the stellar blocking of tackles David Rosales and Jeremy Torres, guards Chaz Peralta and Jason Morales, and center Adrian Rico.
While Fernandez and Ravelo racked up yardage, Garfield’s defense rose to the challenge as well.
The Bulldogs stopped Roosevelt on a goal line stand late in the fourth quarter to maintain their 22-15 lead. After a 46-yard run by Michael Galindo to the Garfield seven-yard line, the Rough Riders reached the one on the next play. But the two plays gained little and Galindo was stopped on fourth down, ending a drive that had started back on the Roosevelt 15.
“Holding a team like Roosevelt on the goal line for four downs in this environment is incredible,” Garfield Coach Lorenzo Hernandez said. “You have to give our defense a lot of credit.”
Garfield took over on downs with less than five minutes remaining and was facing third and nine from their two when quarterback Nicky Peralta hooked up with Steven De La Torre on a 15-yard pass completion. Fernandez broke and scored on his 75-yard run two plays later.
“The game came down to the line of scrimmage and they (Garfield) controlled it pretty consistently, but we still had our chances,” Roosevelt Coach Javier Cid said.
“We had fourth-and-one twice and couldn’t get it in.”
After taking the opening kickoff, Garfield drove 65 yards in 14 plays with Fernandez scoring on a one-yard run.
It didn’t take long for Roosevelt to counter. On the first play, Galindo took a handoff found a huge hole in the middle and ran 76 yards for a touchdown. Matthew Moreno scored on a two-point conversion to give the Rough Riders an 8-7 lead.
Fernandez’ two-yard TD run and Peralta’s two-point conversion pass to Jaime Leija gave the lead back to Garfield, 15-8. Garfield started the drive at the Roosevelt 45 thanks to a 23-yard punt return by Cleo Session.
Roosevelt’s Miguel Garcia recovered a fumble by Peralta in the end zone for a touchdown to tie the score, 15-15.
Fernandez’ third touchdown with 24 seconds left in the second quarter gave the lead back to Garfield 22-15 at halftime.
Roosevelt also reached the Garfield 18-yard line in the third quarter, only to lose the ball on downs.
Linebacker Jonathan Valles had a team-high 10 tackles to lead Garfield. Marcelino Reyes, who made nine tackles, stopped Galindo on the fourth-down play at the goal line and also recorded the tackle that stopped the drive at the 18. Michael Martinez had eight tackles and Antonio Huezo made seven.