UNION CITY -- A goal-line stand proved to be the difference in the James Logan High football team's 14-7 win over visiting Liberty in the first round of the North Coast Section Division I playoffs Friday.
Gritty Liberty had a first-and-goal situation on the James Logan 6 and trailed by only one touchdown early in the fourth quarter. But after allowing 4 rushing yards to Liberty's Ivan Oseguera on the first-down play, the Colts defense allowed just 1 yard on three ensuing plays. Liberty (5-6), the No. 12 seed, didn't have another offensive play the rest of the game, as James Logan (9-2) went on a nine-minute-plus drive.
"Our defense played their butts off," said James Logan coach George Zuber, who pointed out a great play by linebacker Tino Mafi on the goal-line stand. "(Liberty's) scrappy. It was everything we saw on film."
Ahki Muhammad scored both touchdowns for James Logan, the No. 5 seed.
The only score of the first half was a 24-yard touchdown run by Muhammad with 6 minutes, 46 seconds left in the half. Muhammad had 54 of his game-high 106 yards rushing in the second quarter.
But despite a 128-32 total-yards advantage in the first half, James Logan hurt itself with three turnovers (two fumbles, one interception). It had no turnovers in the second half.
Muhammad provided the eventual winning score when he took the second-half kickoff 84 yards for a touchdown. A two-point conversion throw from Christian Leota to Kavion Augustine gave James Logan a 14-0 lead.
But on its ensuing possession, Liberty drove 92 yards in 13 plays, scoring on a 2-yard run by Alonzo Taylor with 5:59 remaining in the third quarter. The point-after-touchdown kick by Anthony Martinez narrowed the score to 14-7.
"Their offense kept them in the game," Zuber said.
But after James Logan's goal-line stand, Logan took over at its 1 and methodically drove for four first downs, including on a key 6-yard run by Leota with 2:26 remaining, the final first down of the game.
"It was a must. I had to give it my all on that run," Leota said.
Liberty received a punt with 14.8 seconds remaining, but Liberty's Alex Hull was tackled as time ran out.
James Logan 14, Liberty 7
Liberty 0 0 7 0-- 7
James Logan 0 6 8 0-- 14
JL -- Muhammad 24 run (kick blocked)
JL -- Muhammad 84 kickoff return (Augustine pass from Leota)
L -- Taylor 2 run (Martinez kick)
Rushing: L -- Canady 13-73, Oseguera 10-54, Tolentino 4-14, Taylor 4-8, Espinoza 3-7, Cruz 1-3, Lee 2-1, Team 1-(-11). Totals 38-149. JL -- Muhammad 19-106, Fualaau 5-37,Leota 8-16, Lealao 5-10, Cruz 1-2, Elisaia 1-2. Totals 39-173. Passing: L -- Tolentino 1-6-0-(-1), Oseguera 2-2-0-8. Totals 3-8-0-7. JL -- Leota 5-11-1-46. Receiving: L -- Espinoza 1-7, Cruz 1-1, Taylor 1-(-1). Totls 3-7. JL -- Augustine 2-20, Muhammad 2-14, Sekhon 1-12. Totals 5-46. Fumbles/lost: Liberty -- 2/0, James Logan -- 3/2. Records: James Logan 9-2, Liberty 5-6.