Cesar Chavez quarterback Jamal Abraham had only completed four passes in a Friday night matchup against KIPP by the time he faced fourth and goal from two yards out in overtime. But as the quarterback rolled to his left and peered into a crowded end zone, he decided to go for a fifth. Instead of using the legs that had helped put his team in this position, he picked out wide receiver Rasheed Mullins with his arm for the go-ahead score in a 12-6 victory in Northeast.
“I was thinking to run it, but instead I threw it to my man and he gave us the win,” Abraham said. “We worked for this all week.”
With the win, the Eagles remain undefeated in the Public Charter School Athletic Association and claimed the regular season title. Cesar Chavez (5-3, 4-0 PCSAA) will face off against KIPP once again next week in the league’sinaugural championship game.
It will be a short recovery period from what was a bruising matchup on a frigid night. Both teams pounded the ball on the ground, and both run defenses shined. Despite only a handful of passes being thrown, the teams combined for only one rush of more than 25 yards.
“The defense was out there hitting hard on every single play, it was crazy,” Abraham said. “Next week we’re just going to do the same thing.”
The Panthers (7-3, 4-1) were plagued by penalties and interceptions throughout the game, both of which seemed to occur consistently in the red zone. After quarterback Davon Carter went down before a final drive in the fourth quarter, KIPP ran a wildcat with multiple running backs taking snaps. It worked to perfection, too, as the team drove down the field and toward a late victory. But a fumble right outside the 20-yard line with 30 seconds left drew frustration from the sideline and forced the game into overtime.
Moving the ball through the air didn’t seem to be an option for KIPP, which finished with four picks on the night, two of which came in the end zone. Carter completed only one pass on the night, a 35-yard touchdown to tie the game at 6 in the fourth quarter.
Senior Maurice Edwards led the Cesar Chavez rushing attack with seven carries for 93 yards. Abraham added 10 carries for 54 yards, often finding room to scamper after avoiding a persistent Panthers pass rush. On defense, Mullins was a standout on the outside, supporting the run game with big hits and nabbing an interception in the second quarter.
After the game, Chavez Coach Shemal Richmond preached the importance of mentality as his players shivered in the cool night air.
“I told you from day one that the minute we all buy into this nobody could get past us,” he told his team. “And who beat us in the Public Charter School Athletic Association? Nobody.”