Culver City kicker Nico Melendez connects on a field goal in overtime to defeat Santa Monica on Friday. (Paul Alvarez Jr.)

Culver City kicker Nico Melendez connects on a field goal in overtime to defeat Santa Monica on Friday. (Paul Alvarez Jr.)

CULVER CITY — And then there was one.

Coming into the game tied for first place in the Ocean League, Culver City and Santa Monica battled through four quarters only to find themselves facing overtime to seize control of the league on Friday at Culver City.

After failing to score on their first possession, the Samohi Vikings were forced to play defense and hope they could stop Culver City, giving them one more shot to win.

Culver City wasn’t having it.

Quarterback Armani Rodgers confidently led his Centaurs to the three-yard line where kicker Nico Melendez nailed a field goal that gave Culver City (4-4) the 17-14 win and a 3-0 league record. Culver City has a firm grasp of first place. The loss sent Samohi to 2-1 in league and 4-4 overall.

“We should have had that one,” said Samohi head coach Travis Clark. “This is frustrating.”

The fact that Samohi even forced an overtime was a victory of sorts.

Culver City’s defense dominated the first half, giving the Centaurs a 14-0 lead at the intermission.

With a passing game that was struggling, Clark went almost exclusively to the run giving senior running back Kwame Duggins plenty of chances to lead the offense back into the game.

It worked.

The elusive Duggins got Samohi on the board with a 21-yard scamper up the gut of the defense in the final minutes of the third quarter.

Riding the momentum, Samohi’s defense shut down what was an efficient Culver City offense during the first half.

Just moments after the first score, Duggins did it again. This time with a 12-yard scoring run that tied it at 14-14 early in the fourth quarter.

“I’m proud of the effort,” Clark said of the comeback.

But, effort wasn’t enough. Samohi needed to score and came up flat to end regulation.

Both teams traded jabs, but nobody could break through until Culver City cashed in its only overtime possession, sealing the win.

“That’s how we’re built,” Culver City head coach Jahmal Wright said amid a raucous Centaur celebration at mid-field. “My hat’s off to coach Clark, his guys put up a great fight.”

The loss may derail Samohi’s quest to three-peat as league champs. With two league games remaining, Culver City is in control of its own destiny.

Next for Samohi is a home game against Inglewood on Friday at Corsair Field. The game begins at 7 p.m.

 

daniela@smdp.com

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