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Friday, November 30, 2007

Carson gets down, dirty to earn trip to City Final

Sula gains 195 yards and the defense pitches a shutout as the Colts survive muddy clash with Dorsey for their 10th straight victory.

Free safety Jeff Mueller couldn't help himself. He dove headfirst into the mud puddle at midfield, then began doing "mud angels."

Then anyone wearing a mud-caked Carson uniform looked to hug or chest-bump the closest teammate.

Keenan Smith and Mike Cortez were singing in unison: "We're going to the 'ship."'

Carson advanced to its first L.A. City Section title game since 2003 by getting down and dirty for a down-and-dirty 6-0 victory over Dorsey on Friday in the semifinals, the 10th straight win for Carson.

"I was so happy, I was doing some dirt angels, some mud angels," Mueller said. "We're all brothers, and we had to do whatever we had to do to get there. We had to shut them out because it was too close of a game."

Carson will now go for its 10th City title Friday at the Coliseum against top-seeded Birmingham, a 42-6 winner over Crenshaw.

On a day when inclement weather grounded Carson's Dominique Blackman-led aerial attack, running back Jack Sula put the Colts on his back as he has done throughout the season, carrying the ball 31 times for 195 yards and the lone score of the game, a 6-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

From there, Carson's ever-imposing defense dug its heels into the mud and held its ground, recording its third and most impressive shutout this season with two goal-line stands while stifling UCLA-bound running back Johnathan Franklin.

Sula's 6-yard scoring run in the first quarter stood up, thanks in large part to fourth-down goal-line stops by David Sausau and Chris Hill.

"With this weather, Coach (Mike Christensen) told me before the game that 'we're gonna ride you,' and as a leader for this team, I had to put this game on me," said Sula, also a standout linebacker who didn't have a dry spot on his uniform.

"I ain't running sideways either. I was going nowhere but straight up the middle. And the defense did a hell of a job with those big goal-line stops."

The wet and muddy conditions were the only stumbling block for Carson, which racked up 244 yards of total offense but lost two fumbles.

Blackman made sure Sula got the ball time and again, especially on an option play with 1:07 left in the first quarter when he faked it to Cortez and fed Sula, who scampered into the end zone untouched.

"We came into the day expecting to throw on them, but due to the conditions, we rode our horse," said Blackman, who was 1-for-4 for 20 yards. "This is like that Miami-Pittsburgh (NFL) game last week. It was ugly, but we won. We got it done, man."

The only other weather casualty for Carson came in the second quarter when Dorsey quarterback Joshua Williamson hit Francis McDonald for a 32-yard gain when Carson defensive back Justin Balam slipped on the play.

Yet the defense held firm, holding Dorsey to 140 total yards, including an 18-carry, 38-yard effort from Franklin.

It was the third shutout following shutouts of Bishop Amat and Banning during the regular season.

In fact, Carson has given up just 20 points in three playoff games.

"With a sloppy field, we knew the defense was going to be huge," Christensen said. "We did it. We made the title game, but kind of like we did all year, we made it harder than we needed to.

"For the defense to shut out that team is something special because they're pretty talented. It wasn't just one guy. That's what we've been preaching all year, maybe they're finally listening to us," Christenen added, laughing.

The first goal-line stand by Sausau was as decisive as it was jarring.

Franklin took the ball and tried to go up the middle, but was met by Sausau and a host of Colts.

Sausau hobbled out of the pile, and even though he hurt his leg on the play, he couldn't help but signal that Franklin was short of the end zone.

"My leg was hurting, but I knew I stopped him and I wanted to make sure the refs knew I stopped him," Sausau said. "I can't get that stop out of my head. It was one of the greatest stops I've had in my career. Once I hit him, I knew he was stopped. I'm proud of our defense. We stopped them and stopped them, and just had great defense all game."

Hill came up with a stop that essentially sealed the game.

On fourth-and-goal from the Carson 4, Williamson rolled out to pass to what appeared to be a wide-open McDonald.

But the 5-foot-8, 157-pound Hill, about halfway between Williamson and McDonald, leapt into the air, knocked the pass high into the air and came down with the interception with 9:14 left, snuffing out Dorsey's last serious threat.

"I don't even know what happened." Hill said. "I jumped as high as I could, and it happened so fast, it was crazy. I was in coverage the whole way, and I just made the play. I'm just happy, man, happy. We made it. And our defense was as good as it could be today."

Daniel Torres had a fumble recovery and a sack for Carson. John Espanola had a sack and several big hits. Darren Lipsey was solid, while MacKenzie Falo and Ken McRoyal were also unyielding.

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