RICHMOND -- Junior quarterback Keilan Benjamin took matters into his own hands Friday and led the El Cerrito High football team to a 40-20 win over Analy-Sebastapol in the North Coast Section Division III semifinals at De Anza High.
Benjamin completed 23 of 28 passes for 211 yards and three touchdowns and ran for two third-quarter scores as the top-seeded Gauchos (13-0) advanced to next Saturday's championship against either No. 2 Marin Catholic-Kentfield or Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa. The title game will be at Pinole Valley High.
El Cerrito led 19-0 at the intermission, then Benjamin connected with wideout Jalen Harvey on a 11-yard touchdown strike with 10 minutes left in the third quarter. Benjamin then added touchdown runs of 1 and 24 yards to give El Cerrito a commanding 40-7 lead.
No. 5 seed Analy (12-1) managed two touchdowns in the second half, but by then, the outcome was fairly secure.
Benjamin hit Adarius Pickett with a 21-yard TD pass in the second quarter, and Bryson Singleton scooted in from 3 yards out on the Gauchos' first possession of the game.
The Tigers rallied late behind quarterback Darin Newman, who completed 17 of 32 passes for 199 yards. He was intercepted by defensive back Keith Benjamin on his final pass attempt.
Sophomore running back Ja'narrick James scored twice for Analy, and Dylan Mathias hauled in an 8-yard pass from Newman for the game's final scored with 6:33 left in regulation.
In the first half, the Gauchos defense held the Tigers to 54 yards rushing and 23 yards passing. Analy did not score fewer than 35 points in any of its previous 12 games this season.
Benjamin's first touchdown pass was a 21-yard completion to Pickett with 11:09 left in the second quarter.
The Gauchos took a 19-0 lead into halftime when Benjamin found Harvey open for a 9-yard score with 36 seconds to go before the break.