It was the 78th meeting between Garfield and Roosevelt High Schools, one of the oldest rivalries in sports and in Los Angeles. With a win on Friday night and a win next Friday against Huntington Park, the Garfield Bulldogs could claim a share of the Eastern League title. For the Roosevelt High Rough Riders a win over their rival opponents would be satisfaction enough.
It was a tight defensive battle until the second quarter, when defensive back Eleazar Rivera caught a 52-yard interception return to the Roosevelt 22-yard line after a tipped pass. The Bulldogs Lance Fernandez took a hand off and ran the ball up the middle for the touchdown to put Garfield ahead 7-0. Fernandez missed the Bulldogs first five games due to a knee injury.
The score would remain the same until the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs planned another drive. As quarterback Joshua Mendoza who was sensational on the night, failed to convert on a the drive and was forced to punt the ball to Roosevelt. The Rough Riders took over at the 40 yard line with 4:30 left in the final quarter of play, and drove it down to the Bulldogs 6 yard line. Quarterback David Arriaga threw a spectacular pass in the end zone, only to be intercepted by the Bulldogs safety Juan Carlos Munoz. Munoz ran the ball back to the 40 yard before he was brought down with 31 seconds left in the game to seal the victory for Garfield.
Munoz has never lost to Roosevelt in his four year career, “the offense struggled at times but the defense came through. This is like a playoff game to us.”
As the clock ticked down a stunned Roosevelt could only look on as they were shutout 7-0, in another epic battle between the two schools. This was the first shutout in the rivalry since 2003 when Roosevelt destroyed Garfield 33-0. Roosevelt still leads the series 40-32 since it began back in 1925.
Garfield (4-5, 4-1) quarterback Joshua Mendoza completed 9 of 16 passes for 107 yards and Juan Carlos Munoz finished with five passes for 125 yards. Lance Fernandez finished with 50 yards and 6 carries.
“The crowd, the attention leading up to it, the tradition something about this game brings out the best in me,” Fernandez said. “Running out of that tunnel always gets me pumped up.”
“Coming in we knew they were a tough opponent and on this kind of stage we just wanted to chip away,” said Mendoza. “This was an important game and out defense did an excellent job.”
Roosevelt (8-2, 5-1) David Arriaga completed 15 of 27 passes for 146 yards and had 2 INT’s. Gilbert Herrera rushed for 62 yards for 12 carries along with four caught passes for 17 yards.