Yaqiym Halliburton, Aquinas beat Alemany to reach Division 5 semifinals

SAN BERNARDINO — In a defensive standoff, it came down to a missed 39-yard field goal with 28 seconds remaining for the Aquinas Falcons to defeat the Alemany Warriors 15-13 in the CIF-SS Divison 5 quarterfinals.

Taking a 15-6 lead into the fourth quarter, it was continuous defensive stops from junior Yaqiym Halliburton that aided in the Falcons’ victorious efforts.

“I feel like we practice hard, and I feel like it all comes out on the field,” Halliburton said. “Whatever you do under the dark is going to come to light. We just kept working, kept our heads up, kept the energy going, and made the plays.”

“He’s just a football player,” said Aquinas head coach Jordan Brusig. “Maybe abandoned his job sometimes because he can just tell what’s going on and make a play for us. Yaqiym just steps up when we need him.”

After losing their quarterback early in the season and being limited to one passing attempt in the game, Alemany looked to senior running back Jeremiah Claiborne to carry the offense which he did carrying the ball on each of the 19 plays in the second half, including a touchdown to bring the Warriors within two with just under nine minutes left in the game. Claiborne would finish the night with 187 yards rushing on 40 attempts.

“The last ten weeks that’s what it has been,” said Alemany head coach Casey Clausen. “Since our quarterback went down everyone knew we couldn’t throw it so for (Jeremiah) to take the pounding that both he did, especially again tonight, I’m super proud of him and he’s got a bright future for sure.”

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“You know they’re going to run the football, but they’re coached so well they’re not running the ball half-hazardly,” said Brusig. “When it’s over and over and over again our guys have to be relentless and not break. We bent a little bit but didn’t break. That was good enough to get the job done.”

Getting the ball down to the 22-yard line, Alemany faced a fourth down with 32 seconds remaining and opted for a 39-yard field goal attempt which missed wide right.

“It looked like it was going in,” Brusig said. “It was long enough. I was just glad we didn’t jump offsides when they called the timeout. That’s definitely not how they wanted the game to go down but there was a play to be made and we were able to come out on top.”

With the victory, Aquinas will face the St. Francis Golden Knights in La Canada Flintridge next week in the CIF-SS Divison 5 semifinals.

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