June 21, 2024

For the first time in four years, the Carson football team got to celebrate a victory on its home field.

After a 27-7 victory over Narbonne in their Marine League opener Thursday night, the Colts lingered on the field a little longer than usual, soaking in the moment after christening their newly renovated stadium the way they imagined they would.

No one was wearing a bigger smile than senior running back Jerry Misaalefua, who scored on runs of eight and 21 yards in the second half to help keep the Colts (7-0), ranked third in the City Section by The Times, undefeated and in strong position for an Open Division playoff berth.

“Ever since I got here this is what I wanted to feel like … my brother [Jack Sula] and my older cousin played here and told me what it’s like but I never got to experience it before,” Misaalefua said. “We finally got a true home game. There was a lot of pressure for us to win after all the hype, but I like it.”

Narbonne (3-4) entered the game having lost three games by a total of seven points. It pulled even at 7-7 in the second quarter on a 25-yard pass from Deshawn Laporte to Allen Blaylock after Lincoln Iakopo got Carson on the scoreboard first with a two-yard quarterback sneak in the final minute of the first quarter, capping an 11-play, 77-yard drive.

The 10th-seeded Gauchos upset No. 2 Carson 34-32 in the Division I quarterfinals last season. Narbonne then lost 45-36 at No. 3 Palisades in the semifinals.

Narbonne wide receiver Allen Blaylock celebrates after making a 25-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter.

Narbonne wide receiver Allen Blaylock celebrates after making a 25-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter Thursday night at Carson.

(Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

“We knew this was going to be a grind it out type of game — our coaches preached that all week,” Misaalefua said after rushing for nearly 140 yards and making numerous tackles at linebacker. “This is the toughest league in the City — there are no easy games.”

Misaalefua’s long kickoff return to start the second half set the Colts up at the Narbonne 25. Five plays later, Brendan Fautua Leomiti scored on a three-yard run to put Carson ahead for good with 9:42 left in the third quarter. Kameryn Hurst added 80 yards in 11 carries.

Carson was playing its first home game on campus since a 13-7 loss to San Pedro on November 7, 2019. It traveled for all of its games in 2021, playing its home games at Harbor College last year and all six previous games this year on the road. In all, 29 consecutive games off campus.

“It definitely feels great to be home,” Misaalefua said.

Carson won the last of its 11 City titles in 2003. Only Manual Arts (17) and Banning (12) have more. Coach Mike Christensen, hired for a second go around in 2021, remembered having eight kids in the first team meeting. The Colts went 3-5 that year and 6-6 last fall. “I finally have a senior class,” he joked.

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