Millikan quarterback Qeanu Campbell-Caldwell and receiver Malik Bradford picked an opportune time for their first touchdown of the season. The Rams duo connected on a 4th & Goal score from the 10-yard line in the final minutes of their 25-22 victory at Compton on Friday night.
“It was a sprint play,” Campbell-Caldwell said of the game-winning touchdown that had him rolling out towards his own sideline with defenders in pursuit. “If the out wasn’t open for me than I was going to Malik, the big dog.”
Bradford, a Cal commit, was also moving towards the sideline in the end zone when Campbell-Caldwell lobbed the ball towards his outstretched arms.
“I was supposed to go in on the angle route and get into the back of the end zone,” Bradford said. “But the safety grabbed me, so I just wanted to make sure I got outside. (Campbell-Caldwell) just made a great throw.”
Bradford also made a nice adjustment after he bobbled the ball, and then squeezed it again with his right hand while leaving his right foot inbounds. It took the officials a few seconds to confer and confirm the score. WATCH HIGHLIGHT VIDEO
“Finishing is really big in this program because if you don’t finish you’re not playing hard enough,” Campbell-Caldwell said. “That’s pretty much what that means.”
Millikan (4-2, 2-1) picked up its first league win of the season last week in dramatic fashion against rival Lakewood. The Rams are ranked No. 8 in CIF-SS Division 7.
“With this adversity, it helps us for down the road if a game gets close like this we know we can pull through,” Bradford said.
Before the game-winning touchdown went the Rams way, the rest of the contest was dictated by the rushing attacks.
Compton (5-1, 1-1) took a 14-10 lead at halftime thanks to work from running backs Niles Hibbert and Terrence Pratt. Hibbert gained 151 yards on 17 carries while Pratt rushed the ball 21 times for 114 yards and two touchdowns. His second scored came with nine seconds left in the first half. Compton is ranked No. 8 in Division 10.
“Compton is undefeated for a reason,” Millikan coach Justin Utupo said. “They’re going to make plays. They’re going to score. But the scoreboard is irrelevant when it comes to our players mindset. I’m proud of the way our players and coaches adjusted at the half.”
Compton pushed its lead to 22-10 in the middle of the third quarter thanks to a 53-yard touchdown run from Hibbert, and the second interception of the night for senior defensive back Maepu Sao. Compton was driving to score again when Millikan linebacker Joshua Robinson-Little forced and recovered a fumble inside the 10-yard line.
The Rams responded with a 16-play drive that featured 13 runs and a no-huddle pace. Qu’Juan Campbell capped it off with a 12-yard touchdown run on 3rd & Goal to cut the lead to 22-18. Campbell finished with 107 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. His fellow running back Jaylen Jefferson had 15 rushes for 95 yards.
“We wanted to go uptempo at some point to tire them out, and then at the end of the game slow it down to control the clock,” Utupo said. “That’s the first time I saw our offensive line really firing off of the ball with some juice. And it helps when they see their running backs hitting the hole and lowering their shoulder.”
Compton failed to score on its final three possessions of the game, and that opened the door for Campbell-Caldwell and Bradford. Millikan’s game-winning drive chewed up 80-yards and more than six minutes of game clock. Campbell and Jefferson ran the ball well to get them into scoring position, and despite dropping the ball on 3rd & Goal from the 5-yard line, Campbell-Caldwell redeemed himself a play later when he hit Bradford. Both All-Moore League players have missed time this season due to injury.
“It’s back to getting the chemistry back with the players who have been out for awhile,” Utupo said. “I think our offense is going to start rolling and it’s going to be a sight to see.”
Compton visits Poly next week while Millikan enjoys the bye week.
“Hats off to coach Utupo and the entire Millikan staff,” Compton coach Calvin Bryant said. “They made big plays in the fourth quarter. Hopefully this game helps us grow together as a team, and shows that we can play quality football.”
QB Qeanu Campbell-Caldwell: 10/20, 93 yards, TD, 2 INTs
RB Qu’Juan Campbell: 18 carries, 107 yards, TD
RB Jaylen Jefferson: 15 carries, 95 yards, TD
WR: Malik Bradford: 3 receptions, 36 yards, TD
WR: Dylan Davis: 3 receptions, 55 yards
RB Niles Hibbert: 17 carries, 151 yards, TD
RB Terrence Pratt: 21 carries, 114 yards, 2 TD
Referee shortage a potential crisis for high school sports * Long Beach Post
Could you imagine getting verbally abused and physically threatened at your part-time job, and then coming back to work again the next day? That’s the life of high school sports officials. Anyone who has spent time around youth sports has seen coaches, parents and players scream and curse at a referee or umpire during a heated game.