There was a stoppage of play in the first quarter because the referees noticed blood on the football. That’s what kind of game it was on Friday night when Compton visited Paramount for a local non-league clash.
When the dust finally settled, Compton came up just short in a 20-18 loss to the Pirates despite suffering multiple key injuries and self-inflicted wounds.
“That’s a rough one,” Compton coach Calvin Bryant said. “Hats off to Paramount, they played a great game and won it, but we just put the ball on the ground. You can’t win a football game when you fumble the ball.”
Compton (2-1) turned the ball over five times in the game, and the last fumble came in the middle of the fourth quarter when Paramount junior Nigel Mills stripped the ball and scored from 45-yards out. That put the Pirates up 20-12, and although Compton scored on its next drive thanks to a Tai’jon Direaux 12-yard touchdown run, the resulting 2-point conversion failed and the last Compton drive of the night stalled at the Paramount 30-yard line with a minute to play.
“We’re trying to play a tough brand of football,” Paramount coach Matt Howard said. “We know (Compton) plays a tough brand of football, so we challenged our kids and they stepped up. Their offense is tough to stop and we played really well.”
Paramount (1-1) didn’t give up a touchdown to the Compton offense until Amir Ford broke off a 73-yard run to pay dirt late in the third quarter. That cut the Pirates lead to 14-12 after the failed 2-point conversion. Compton was 0-for-3 on their 2-point conversion attempts.
There were four key moments in the game when Compton could’ve taken the ball back from the strong Paramount rushing attack and junior Bishop Williams, but penalties and mental mistakes allowed the Pirates to dominate time of possession.
“I felt like we kept our defense on the field for a long time,” Bryant said. “On offense we stuttered and we tried to battle without having some of our guys in there. We have to figure out a way to keep playing and see who wants to step up.”
Compton star running back Eric Barrios looked good while gaining 46 yards on his first five carries of the game, but he had to be helped off the field with a knee injury in the first quarter. Fellow Compton running back Jeremiah Hall also had to leave the game with a shoulder injury in the first half.
Ford, Direaux, Deshawn Sheppard and others tried to carry the load for the run-heavy Compton offense, but the lack of explosiveness out of the backfield limited their big-play potential down the stretch of a very close game.
The tone was set early as Compton fumbled on the second play of the game, and then four plays later Ikechukwu Okogbue put Paramount up 7-0 with a 21-yard touchdown run up the middle.
Compton got into the Paramount red zone on its next two drives, but penalties and fumbled snaps caused both drives to end without points for the visitors.
About halfway through the second quarter, Compton took advantage of a Paramount fumble as Hall scooped and scored the miscue for a 45-yard touchdown that cut the Pirates lead to 7-6.
Paramount responded with a 10-play drive that ended in a 5-yard touchdown run from Sebastian Smith just before the break that made the score 14-6 at halftime. Compton had a chance to stop that drive, but inadvertently touched a punt that was recovered by Paramount.
Both teams traded quick drives to start the second half before Ford’s long touchdown run. After a long Paramount drive stalled in the Compton red zone, it looked like the visitors were set up to take that momentum and the lead on the ensuing possession.
Instead, Mills came up with the play of the game to strip the ball near the Compton sideline and take it in himself for what would end up being the game-winning touchdown.
“I saw the ball and all I thought about was stripping it,” Mills said. “I thought I might get tackled by my teammates but I took it back to the crib… (This game) was about how hard my guy fought. We play hard, we play together, we play strong and we play fast.”
“He leads the defense and gets in the right spots at the right times,” Howard said of Mills, who returned an interception for a touchdown last week.
Compton responded well with a nine-play scoring drive that Direaux capped with a TD, and then after forcing a turnover on downs with about three minutes to play, Compton quarterback Aava Lilomaiava found Kingston Moa on a play-action pass for 33 yards that put the visitors in position to win the game. However, a holding penalty killed the momentum, and then a pair of incompletions killed the comeback.
“We need to look and film and see what our weaknesses are,” Bryant said. “We’re making a lot of mistakes in crucial situations. We have to go back to the drawing board and try to piece things together to get better and hopefully be prepared for next week.”