In the end, there was a big sack by the newest star in the fold, James Brown; an electrifying punt return by a player who makes it look routine, Michiah Quick; and a go-ahead touchdown run by a major-college talent who proved it, Nick Wilson.
And with that, fourth-ranked Central defeated No. 5 Clovis 13-9 on Thursday night in a Tri-River Athletic Conference heavyweight bout at Lamonica Stadium.
But wait. Hit the rewind button.
Nothing was more important than a Grizzlies four-play, goal-line stand midway through the second quarter.
"Big momentum change," Central safety Devon Brewer said.
"They stuffed it," Clovis coach Rich Hammond added.
No, the Grizzlies (5-2, 2-0) didn't stuff IT.
They stuffed THEM.
No. 1: The Cougars (5-2, 1-1), leading 3-0, deploy a full-house, power Wildcat formation with first-and-goal on the 6. Star free safety Alan Crowley, replacing quarterback R.J. Hartmann for this series, is stopped by Tee Freeman after 2 yards.
No. 2: Crowley is stopped again by Freeman after a 1-yard gain.
No. 3: Crowley is stoned for no gain by Joe Page.
No. 4: And, finally, Crowley is dropped for a 4-yard loss by James Brown.
"He came up from the JVs last week," Central coach Justin Garza said. "He missed summer workouts, and we have a rule, when you do, you play on JVs for five games."
Brown, a senior defensive end, was dominant wire-to-wire.
"He's a great player," Garza said. "A special player."
Then there's Wilson, who adds an extra meaning to special.
Displaying power, acceleration and vision, he carried 18 times for 158 yards and two TDs, including the 12-yard winner with 1 minute, 11 seconds remaining.
"The guy has a fever, has snot running out of his nose and he's running people over," Garza said.
On the play through left guard, Cougars cornerback Brett Stelling met Wilson at the 2, but was plowed into the end zone.
And, in Stelling, Wilson did that to arguably the game's MVP.
Stelling, who caught 11 passes for 110 yards, was denied a sensational one-handed reception that was ruled incomplete late in the game, and intercepted two passes while also going full time as a cornerback. This from a senior who sat on the bench last year.
"He ran track and got faster," Hammond said. "He always had the hands, but couldn't get open. What he did tonight he's done every week. He's unbelievable."
Hartmann, who's had an outstanding senior season after seriously considering checking out of the game permanently after concussions as a junior, went 22 for 33 for 196 yards for Clovis.
It was his 11-yard completion to Stelling on third-and-6, and his reverse-field 6-yard scramble on third-and-4 that set up Marlon Watkins' 2-yard TD run for a 9-6 Cougars lead late in the third.
Quick's 30-yard punt return set up the go-ahead possession by Central, which will roll the momentum into a TRAC home game next Friday against No. 3 Clovis North, the Central Section's defending Division I champion.
The Grizzlies had gone 0 for 4 against Clovis the past three seasons.
"This meant a lot," said Brewer, who has committed to Arizona. "We've been trying to beat those guys for four years. This really meant a lot."
Clovis will remain home next Friday to play Buchanan.
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