Dymally outpaces Taft on the road

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The eighth-ranked Dymally Challengers lived up to their lofty position in the city section rankings and came away with a 52-20 victory over the Taft Toreadors last Thursday evening. The Dymally offense showed how explosive they can be racking up 579 yards of total offense and seven touchdowns during the victory.

The evening started positively for Taft, who forced a Dymally fumble on their first play from scrimmage, which led to a Devon Conroy touchdown pass to Lior Lesham to give the Toreadors the early lead. Dymally responded with a touchdown of their own on a fake punt return for a touchdown. The Challengers' defense settled in and kept the Taft offense at bay for the next couple of possessions while they continued to pile up the points themselves. Back-to-back touchdown passes by senior quarterback Jermaine Witten pushed the lead to 18-7 in Dymally's favor before Conroy answered with his second touchdown pass to Lior Lesham to pull the Toreadors back to within one score midway through the second quarter. The Challengers landed another body blow in the form of a special teams play when Braynt Collins took the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown to push the lead to 26-14. Taft responded to the big play with one of their own as Conroy connected with Lesham for the third time in the first half with a passing touchdown to keep Taft in striking distance. The Challengers continued to push the pace offensively and marched down the field for another score right before the half to take a 32-20 lead into the break. 

Lior Lesham (13) had a big first half with three touchdown catches against Dymally

At halftime, the school honored Steve Smith, who was truly one of the best players to come out of the City Section. During his time at Taft, the wide receiver/ defensive back dominated the competition before winning national titles at USC and a Super Bowl with the New York Giants as a member of the team that ended the New England Patriots' historic undefeated season. Taft Principle Daniel Steiner announced during the ceremony that the new athletics center that is under construction on the campus that will overlook the far end of the stadium will be named after Smith and will be where his retired number with be visible. “For what he means to the history of this program, it was my top priority to do when I got hired here,” said Taft head coach Fred Emerson about the importance of honoring Smith during the ceremony. “He was a true legend for Taft and the city. His jersey deserves to hang above the stadium for the legacy that he left here.”

Steve Smith with family during his number retirement ceremony at halftime of Taft- Dymally game last Thursday night.

After the ceremony was done, the second half presented opportunities for Taft to get back into the game. The Challengers looked tired along the offensive and defensive lines, but the Toreadors could not finish drives to pull closer on the scoreboard. The Challengers added a passing touchdown late in the third quarter to push their lead to 40-20 and the game became academic from there. Dymally would add two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter to push the final score to 52-20, but the game felt much closer than the 32-point blowout would suggest that it was. “We have to keep building this thing brick by brick if we want to beat the better teams in the city,” said Emerson after Taft’s loss. “We accomplished some good things here that should give us confidence going forward, but we must clean up the mental lapses. Finish plays and drives the right way. We can and will get better from tonight.”

Taft fell to 1-2 with the loss but will have an opportunity to get back on the winning track when they hit the road for a non-league encounter with 0-3 Grant on Friday night. The undefeated Challengers will look to improve to 4-0 when they take on winless South Gate at home on Friday night.

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