Los Angeles Preps: Michael Galindo

Garfield 29, Roosevelt 15

November, 5, 2011

MONTEREY PARK -- Fifty years from now, Lance Fernandez will have some story to tell.

He’ll say he broke right and burst through a gaping hole. He’ll say he saw nothing but green turf in front of him, and he'll rave about how he bounced into the end zone. He'll recall that he sent one loyal fan base into hysteria and another into a lull.

Fernandez broke a 75-yard touchdown run with under two minutes remaining Friday night, clinching a 29-15 Garfield victory in the 77th annual East Los Angeles Classic before an estimated 18,000 at Weingart Stadium on the campus of East L.A. College. In all, Fernandez rushed for four touchdowns and 162 yards.

"That was my dream, to win this Classic for everyone," Fernandez said.

The Garfield defense had a large part in it as well, stuffing Roosevelt on three consecutive goal-line attempts midway through the fourth quarter, setting up Fernandez's dramatics. The Bulldogs didn't allow any points in the second half.

"They stepped up, it was good to see them come alive," Garfield coach Lorenzo Hernandez said.

Three of Fernandez's touchdowns came in the first half. His third score, from four yards away, put Garfield (5-5, 5-1 Eastern) up for good just before to the break. Fernandez capped the first drive with a one-yard dive up the middle but Roosevelt answered back on the very next play from scrimmage thanks to running back Michael Galindo’s 76-yard scoring dash. A successful two-point conversion gave the Rough Riders an 8-7 lead.

After Fernandez reached the end zone for the second time and a two-point try made it 15-8, Roosevelt linebacker Juan Garcia jumped in front of a Nicky Peralta pass and returned it 15 yards for the tying touchdown.

In the end, Roosevelt (5-4, 3-2) was doomed by its inability to stop the run. Fernandez did his thing and fullback Larry Ravelo provided a nice change of pace, bruising his way to 94 yards in 15 carries. Roosevelt's defense simply didn’t look like the same one that had held South East’s Robert Lewis, one of the top tailbacks in the City Section, to a mere 11 yards earlier in the year.

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Garfield-Roosevelt has implications

November, 3, 2011
Garfield and Roosevelt footballMario Villegas for ESPNLosAngeles.comRoosevelt and Garfield players stand together in promotion of this year's East L.A. Classic.

There’ll be more than just bragging rights on the east side of L.A. Friday night, when Garfield and Roosevelt meet in the East Los Angeles Classic.

The winner gets a City Section Division I playoff berth.

“It’s truly an honor to be part of this game every year, but this is for the playoffs, and not just bragging rights,” said Roosevelt coach Javier Cid, who played in the game as a Rough Rider and is a former Garfield assistant coach.

An estimated capacity crowd of 20,000 will pack the stadium at East Los Angeles College for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff for the 77th meeting between the Bulldogs and the Rough Riders. Both teams lost to unbeaten South East and the winner likely will finish second in the Eastern League.

“Unfortunately, we both lost to South East, and the only opponent that we’ve played that they haven’t played is Bell, and they should beat Bell, so this is the right way to determine second place,” Garfield coach Lorenzo Hernandez said.

Both Garfield and Roosevelt are Division I teams, but the Eastern League is guaranteed only one berth in the City’s upper-division brackets.

“This game not only means a lot to us and the East L.A. community, but it’s also for the playoffs,” Garfield defensive lineman Martin Soto said.

South East, which is expected to win the league outright, is Division II.

Garfield (4-5, 4-1) played a rugged nonleague schedule, losing to Bishop Amat, Edison, Dorsey and St. Paul and opened league against South East. The Bulldogs have rolled off four straight wins since and end the regular season against Roosevelt.

Roosevelt (5-3, 3-1), which plays Bell (2-6) next week, bounced from the loss to South East to defeat Huntington Park and Jordan.

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