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LAKE BALBOA — Football supremacy in the West Valley League was hanging in the balance.
After five lead changes – most due to big-play touchdowns – Birmingham Charter’s defense made a big play of its own to help edge Granada Hills Charter 29-28 at home Friday night.
The Patriots’ defense stopped Granada Hills from converting a fourth and 4 on its own 42-yard line with 4:25 left in the game and their one-point lead. Birmingham’s offense converted a fourth down on the ensuing position to help run the clock out and seal the victory.
“That play was huge,” Birmingham coach Jim Rose said of the fourth down stop. “We showed grit tonight and I think this team grew up a lot, too.”
Birmingham’s star junior Peyton Waters played quarterback, wide receiver, punter, kick returner and defensive back in the game. He scored two touchdowns Friday night, one rushing (58 yards) and one receiving.
“I’m an athlete. I can play anywhere my team needs me,” Waters said.
Rose added: “He’s a Division I talent.”
Granada Hills (4-2) senior running back Dijon Stanley scored all four of the Highlanders’ touchdowns, including a 68-yard run on the fifth play of the game that sparked a 14-0 lead for the Highlanders and a 14-7 advantage at halftime.
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Birmingham quarterback Kingston Tisdell threw two touchdown passes, one to Antrell Harris for 65 yards to give the Patriots a 15-14 lead in the third quarter, and the second to Waters at the 6:34-mark in the fourth quarter to give Birmingham (3-4) its final lead of the game at 29-28.
“They had one more point,” Granada Hills coach Bucky Brooks said. “We messed up. They made plays.”
Both teams came into the game unbeaten in league play. Both teams have their eyes set on a City Section Open Division playoff berth, too. But those chances are likely doused for Granada Hills now that it’s unlikely to win the league, which would be its only chance to earn a berth due to its weak schedule.
Birmingham’s road to a third straight Open City title victory remains intact.