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City Division I: No. 25 Carson 40, Taft 21

12/4/2010

CARSON -- Elijah Asante might want to make a stop at the dry cleaners before he walks into the Coliseum on Saturday.

It didn't matter that it was a chilly, foggy night, as Carson players doused their first-year coach after a 40-21 win over visiting Woodland Hills Taft on Friday. The top-seeded Colts clinched a spot in the City Section Division I championship game next Saturday against No. 2-seeded Crenshaw, a 63-12 winner over Venice in the other semifinal.

"I'm warm right now," Asante said with a wide smile. "This feels good."

Carson (11-2) led just 14-7 at the half before Tyrell Galloway recovered a botched snap on Taft's first punt and returned the ball 12 yards for the score. Tailback Dion Willis pushed the lead to 26-7 minutes later with a 37-yard score.

With the clock on their side, the Colts turned to the ground game in the second half. Quarterback Justin Alo made just two throws after halftime -- one went for a 48-yard touchdown to tight end Dominique Bierria, the other fell incomplete on the ensuing two-point try.

"Our running game was strong," Alo said. "I'm all for the team. Whatever gets us that W, I'm all for it."

Carson ran for 207 yards in the second half alone, attacking Taft's front seven with a combination of Willis and Myles Johnson. Each eclipsed triple digits in yards for the night.

"We felt like if we kept pounding them and pounding them, some holes would open up," Johnson said. "They did and we came out with the win."

Foggy and dewy conditions affected both teams early. With low visibility, it took some time for both quarterbacks to settle in. Alo and Taft's Michael Bercovici, the City Section's top passer, were a combined six-for-17 to start. Alo overthrew a pair of receivers on two different trips to the red zone and Marine League champ Carson had to settle for a pair of field goals by Nestor Lorente.

Bercovici eventually found his rhythm, completing four straight passes to set up a Kenny Thompson 11-yard scoring run that trimmed the deficit in half at the break. Bercovici, who has committed to play at Arizona State next season, finished with 262 yards on 19-for-40 passing -- and that was without top target Michael Thomas, who sat out because of a collarbone injury. The Toreadors (9-5) also played without key lineman Antwaun Woods, who nursed a knee injury.

"Any time you miss that kind of production, it's going to affect you," Asante said.

Carson's players jumped and skipped across the field as the final seconds ticked off the clock. A pair of them ran to the water jug and carried it with them to the handshake line until they found the time to sneak behind Asante.

"It's a big victory," Alo said. "I'm proud of my boys. It took us four years, it's all we ever dreamed of. There's nothing bigger than the Coliseum."