Garfield High School seniors ran around the field holding up the four fingers on their hands yelling “4-peat” as the Bulldogs celebrated their fourth consecutive victory over archrival Roosevelt in the 79th East Los Angeles Classic.
Seniors TyJon Delancy and Eri Velasquez led Garfield to the 22-6 win by combining for three touchdowns before an estimated 15,000 Friday at East Los Angeles College.
Delancy, who rushed for 119 yards, scored on short runs to help the Bulldogs to a 12-0 lead in the third quarter and Velasquez sealed the victory scoring on an interception return in the fourth.
With the victory, Garfield (6-3 overall) won at least a share of the Eastern League title by staying unbeaten (5-0 in league) and can win it outright with a win against Jordan (0-9) Friday night at home. Roosevelt is 7-2 overall and 3-2 in league, and is City Section playoff bound.
Despite losing four straight, the Rough Riders still hold the lead in the all-time series, 39-34-6.
Roosevelt, led by brothers quarterback David Arriaga and running back Daniel Arriaga, outgained Garfield in total yardage, 320-228, and drove deep into Bulldog territory twice in the first quarter, but failed to score.
After forcing the Rough Riders to lose the ball on downs, Garfield went 81 yards with Delancy gaining the last three on his first touchdown run to give the Bulldogs a 6-0 lead two minutes into the second quarter. It was the only score of the first half.
The key play of the drive was aided by a 15-yard penalty after Garfield’s Franklin Robles picked up 36 yards after catching a pass from quarterback Ausencio Navarro.
Delancy scored from a yard out to cap a 45-yard drive and extend the lead to 12-0 with 5:52 left in the third quarter. Navarro’s 13-yard pass to Isiah Vaughn keyed the drive.
Roosevelt responded with a 65-yard scoring drive with Daniel Arriaga rushing for gains of 31 and 10 yards to set up David Arriaga’s 1-yard run with 1:42 left in the third.
But the Rough Riders’ onside kick attempt was unsuccessful giving Garfield possession at the Roosevelt 39 yard line. The Bulldogs took advantage of the short field to set up Aaron Rocha’s 22-yard field goal to increase their lead to 15-6.
David Arriaga’s bid to rally his team back was dashed when Velasquez snatched one of his passes and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown with 5:14 remaining. Velasquez gave credit for the play to his cousin, defensive end Emiliano Aguiar, who converged on Arriaga as the ball left his hand.
“I was rushing from the outside and my cousin (Aguiar) was putting pressure on him as he was going to throw,” Velasquez said in describing his first high school interception and first touchdown. “I saw the ball, put my hands on it and started running with it.”
Delancy carried the ball 26 times and found the running a little harder.
“I was expecting to come in here and run right over them, but I had kind of a hard time because of the way they were filling the gaps,” Delancy said. “I have to give credit to number 30 (linebacker Chris Campos). He was doing his stuff.”
Garfield Coach Lorenzo Hernandez agreed.
“In some aspects, we struggled offensively, but Roosevelt had something to do with that,” he said. “I thought we did a good job defensively and the credit for that goes to our defensive coordinator Steve Wicks.”
The Arriagas have led an explosive Roosevelt offense all season and they put up good numbers. David Arriaga rushed for 128 yards and Daniel Arriaga had 109 on 14 carries, with three receptions for 18 yards.
“We were our own worst enemies a lot of the time,” Roosevelt Coach Javier Cid said. “We just had problems executing at times.”