LANCASTER — The Antelope Valley football team played like a team that was missing several key players on Friday night.
Not much went right for the Antelopes in a 38-0 loss to Lawndale in a CIF-Southern Section Division 5 quarterfinal game at Antelope Valley High School.
“They fought hard and stuff. We were just outmanned,” Antelope Valley coach Jermaine Lewis said. “We were just outmanned.”
Senior Jamaal Bell had an injured hamstring and Lewis said the Antelopes were missing their leading rusher and receiver, their second leading rusher and one of their leading tacklers, some to injuries and others due to suspensions.
“They knew it coming in that it would be a hard fought game,” Lewis said. “It was exactly what it was.”
Still the Antelopes (9-3) played even with Lawndale (10-2) for most of the first half.
Antelope Valley struggled to move the ball throughout the game, finishing with seven turnovers and a total of 130 yards, 39 in the first half.
The Antelopes punted on the opening drive of the game and turned the ball over on their second and third possession.
After AV punted on its fourth drive, the Cardinals got the ball at midfield and drove inside the 20-yard line.
Lawndale junior quarterback Jalon Daniels threw an 18-yard pass into the end zone that was tipped by both an AV defensive player and a Lawndale wide receiver before Lawndalee junior wide receiver Elijah Jackson secured the ball for a touchdown, giving the Cardinals a 7-0 lead with eight minutes and 28 seconds remaining in the first half.
An Antelope Valley player fell ill in the locker room at halftime and an ambulance responded.
Lawndale started the second half with energy that Antelope Valley did not match.
The Cardinals scored on the opening drive of the second half, on a 37-yard run by Daniels.
The Antelopes turned the ball over on a fumble on the third play of the ensuing drive, one of two fumbles they lost in the game.
Lawndale immediately capitalized on the turnover, with senior running back Jordan Wilmore scoring on a 3-yard run, giving the Cardinals a 21-0 lead.
“I feel like as a team, towards the end, we could have done a lot better,” said Antelope Valley senior defensive tackle Demas Harper, who had a sack in the first quarter. “Just us, when we come together as a team, that’s when we play our best. Everyone is focused on one mission, to win. It’s not always about winning, but when you play as a team, it’s going to come. It’s as simple as that.
“Me personally, I thought I had a great season. I don’t regret anything that happened tonight. I played my heart out and left it all on the field. That’s as much as I can say about it.”
The Cardinals scored two touchdowns during a running clock in the fourth quarter, starting with a 31-yard field goal by junior Kevin Guzman to start the final quarter.
The best drive of the night ended in disaster for the Antelopes in the fourth quarter, as a 10-play drive finished at the 25-yard line, as Jackson intercepted a pass, one of five interceptions, and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown.
The next AV possession also ended in an interception and Lawndale capitalized on the very next play, a 73-yard touchdown run by Wilmore.
Bell had 22 rushing yards on five carries for AV, which had 62 rushing yard.
AV senior quarterback Caden Hinton completed 8-of-25 passes for 68 yards and ran for 18 yards on four carries. Junior Kay’ron Benns caught six passes for 68 yards.
“It was a lot of twists and turns. A lot of turmoil,” said Antelope Valley senior defensive tackle Dajour Dixon, who had a sack in the third quarter. “There were a lot of adjustments by players and mindsets, but there were some key players that still stuck with the team and still fought hard through our trials and tribultions, like Jordan Jones and Demariae Harper. But it’s been a learning season for everybody, just learning how to deal with adversity and having to play with whatever things that pop up throughout the season. Everybody is going to look back 10 years from now and talk about what they could have done better and hopefully that will help them grow as people.”
Antelope Valley was trying to duplicate the playoff run it made last season, when the Antelopes advanced to the Division 8 championship game, losing to Grace Brethren 63-27.
Wilmore finished with 174 yards on 21 carries for Lawndale.
Daniels completed 9-of-20 passes for 136 yards, to five different receivers.
“I thought we played pretty well on the road against a tough Antelope Valley team,” Lawndale coach Travis Clark said. “Those kids are very talented. We knew all week that it was going to be rough. We were hoping the weather was going to be like this. It stayed a little warm for us, which worked in our behalf.
“We just played well. It was a great team game. I’m real proud of my defense. They stepped up. They came out here and pitched a shutout against a talented, explosive offense. I’m real proud of them.”
Lawndale will face St. Paul in the semifinals. St. Paul defeated La Serna 34-30 on Friday.
“We still have to get better,” Clark said. “We have bigger fish to fry. Just happy to be practicing on Monday on a holiday and continuing on.”