The Kennedy Eagles soared into first place in the league at their Homecoming game on Friday night, crushing the John Swett Indians 30-7.
Late in the first quarter, the Eagles’ Takkarist Mckinley scored on a short run, putting Kennedy on the board. They failed to make the two point conversion, but they were up, 6-0. It stayed that way through much of the second quarter as each team failed to make third down conversions.
A small but spirited Kennedy crowd helped keep the momentum up from the stands. On the sideline, Gerardo Espinoza encouraged players as they hustled to and from the field. His son is quarterback Roman Espinoza.
“I’m proud. I’m glad to see he’s a leader on and off the field. He has a 3.5 GPA,” Espinoza said. The former Eagles guard graduated from Kennedy in ’89.
As the second quarter clock ran down, it looked like the Eagles would take the lead into the half. But after a solid drive, the Indians battled back to the goal line. On fourth down, and with 35 seconds left, a pass interference call gave Swett an automatic first down. The defense couldn’t hold and the Indians’ offense clawed their way onto the board. A touchdown and the field goal meant a 7-6 lead for the Indians.
During the half, the Eagles huddled around Coach Mack Carminer. The team was quiet as the coach delivered the news.
“We got to execute!” Carminer thundered. “We got to play for the last two quarters.”
At halftime, the cheerleading squads from both schools gave rousing performances before the Homecoming King and Queen were crowned. The Eagles #2, Raysean Walker and Maya Garcia were presented with sashes and, for the queen, a tiara.
As the team regrouped on the sideline, Roman Espinoza didn’t seem shaken by the Indians’ lead. “We got to start running and play these two quarters hard,” he said. “We’re gonna win.”
The players crowding the line didn’t seem so sure as the second half began. Kennedy received the ball deep on their side of the field. The snap came and suddenly the Eagles roared to life.
Over a series filled with long carries and artfully thrown passes, they drove the ball 70 yards down the field. Ernie Timoteo finished the drive with a touchdown. Robert Armstrong took care of the two-point conversion and the Eagles took the lead 14-7.
The momentum continued to build. Quarterback Roman Espinoza connected with Homecoming King Raysean Walker for a huge play and set the Eagles close to end zone. Timoteo charged over the goal line in his second touchdown of the night, followed by another two point conversion by Najee Island. The Eagles were up 22-7 and showed no signs of slowing down.
The defense continued to force the Indians to punt the ball away and on the next drive, Takkarist Mckinley scored his second touchdown of the night. The Eagles continued to deliver two point conversions, this time by Jacob Qualls.
With the Eagles up 30-7, the Indians had one final chance at a drive. They were gaining some steam and marching down the field. After a completed 15 yard pass, the ball was fumbled and seemed to bounce for an eternity before one of the Indians pounced on it. They were a yard off the goal line. With only seconds to go in the game, the Indians had one final chance to at least etch a tighter score into the history books.
But the Eagles weren’t going to budge. The final seconds ran down and the Eagles cemented a commanding 30-7 win.
“We worked as a team and finished strong,” Espinoza said. “We’re going to work hard because we want that league title!” he said before joining his teammates in celebration.
“That’s a great way to play four quarters,” Coach Carminer told his team after they congratulated the Indians for a game well played.
All the congratulations tonight belonged to the Eagles. The team now leads the league with three wins in three games in league play. Overall, their record is four wins and four losses. Kennedy High School squares off with the Richmond High Oilers next Friday.