A spectacular season for the El Cerrito High football team came to an end tonight, Saturday, with a hard-fought loss to Marin Catholic High for the North Coast Section Division III title.
Played in pouring rain from a Pacific storm, the game was close until the final minute when Marin Catholic broke a 28-28 tie with a field goal to finish the match with a 31-28 victory.
The Contra Costa Times called it "an epic battle in awful weather." The close contest was decided by a 27-yard field goal by Chris Hill with 22.2 seconds left on the clock, the paper said.
In a final scoring attempt by El Cerrito, Marcellus Pippins caught a 40-yard pass from quarterback Keilan Benjamin but was dragged down before reaching the goal line as the clock ran out, according to the Times.
Both quarterbacks turned in impressive peformances with Marin Catholic's Jared Goff running for 77 yards, including a 30-yard touchdown, and passing for 124 yards, while Benjamin scored twice, including a 60-yard run, and threw a TD in the fourth quarter to Jalen Harvey to tie the game at 28-28, the Times reported.
"They played through some crazy adversity in terms of weather," said Gauchos head coach Kenny Kahn in a comment quoted by the Times. "We were playing an excellent team in Marin Catholic. Win or lose, my guys gave everything they had."
The top-seeded Gauchos had been undefeated all season going into the game, while Marin Catholic had a 12-1 record. In the semi-final game last weekend, El Cerrito beat Analy High of Sebastopol 40-20.
The heavy rain underscored a key reason for El Cerrito's decision to move its playoff games to DeAnza High School in Richmond – to be able to play on a turf field during the rainy season instead of El Cerrito's earth and grass field.
Correction: An earlier version of this article mistakenly reported the final score as 28-34. It has been corrected.
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