Buena Park's Elijah Gates, right, turns the corner and gives a straight arm to a Fullerton defender during the first half of their game on Friday. (MICHAEL KITADA, CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER)

Rafkin's two TD passes help Buena Park top Fullerton


BUENA PARK – Backup quarterback James Rafkin threw two touchdown passes in the third period to lead Buena Park to a 21-7 victory over Fullerton in a Freeway League game Friday at Buena Park.

Following a scoreless first half, Rafkin replaced starter Deshaun Harvey at the outset of the third quarter. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound senior, a transfer from Lakewood who became eligible the previous week, scrambled to buy time and hit Elijah Gates for a 29-yard touchdown to complete an 80-yard, 12-play drive to put the Coyotes on top. 7-0.

Rafkin completed all eight of his passes on the drive, including 10-, 11- and 15-yarders to Taariq Johnson.

Rafkin drove Buena Park (6-1, 2-0), ranked 16th in the county and ninth in CIF-SS Division 3, 80 yards on four plays on its next possession.

The drive actually covered 85 yards following a 5-yard penalty. Rafkin hooked up with the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Johnson on a 40-yard gain to midfield, and two plays later hit Johnson for a 36-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead with 3:17 left in the third period. Johnson spun and broke away from two Fullerton tacklers at the 20 and sprinted into the end zone.

Rafkin played in two series in the first half, but Harvey returned after interception. Rafkin played the entire second half. For the game, he competed 16 of 21 for 195 yards, 186 in the second half.

Trailing 7-0, Fullerton (3-4, 0-2) drove 70 yards on four plays with its opening possession of the second half. Quarterback Gavin Klepper completed a 47-yard pass to Dylan Nicholson for a first down at the Buena Park 9. Nicholson ran 4 yards on first down, but Klepper was intercepted by Gates in the end zone.

Buena Park’s Niguy Simms returned an interception 33 yards to the Fullerton 2 and Marcus Manglona scored on a 1-yard run to make it 21-0 with 10 minutes to play.

Klepper, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound sophomore, ran 24 yards for Fullerton’s touchdown with 5:51 remaining.

Buena Park had a 45-yard touchdown pass from Rafkin to Devon Cooley in the first quarter nullified by a holding penalty.

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