TULARE – So much for not being physical enough to match up with a Tri-River Athletic Conference opponent.
Seventh-seeded Tulare High scored on all four of its third-quarter possessions to turn a close first-half battle into a 49-14 rout – featuring a running clock in the fourth quarter, no less – of No. 10 Buchanan during the opening round of the Central Section Division I football playoffs Friday at Bob Mathias Stadium.
Last year, Tulare took a beating in a 20-7 first-round playoff loss to Clovis East.
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The memory of that loss, and Tulare's 17-14 loss to Mission Oaks three weeks ago, likely led to the East Yosemite League champion Redskins (10-1) receiving such a low seed in a 10-team bracket.
"We worked hard over the summer," said defensive lineman Jonathon Gutierrez, who had 11/2 of Tulare's four second-half sacks and a fumble recovery. "We got outphysicalled last year and we didn't want that to happen again."
The Redskins, who advance to face second-seeded Edison next Friday at McLane, forced a three-and-out on Buchanan's first possession of the second half. That triggered a sequence where Tulare scored on three of its next six plays to turn a 21-14 lead into a 42-14 cushion.
Receptions of 27 yards by Alex Espinoza and 16 yards by William Stallworth set up Xavier Stephens' 7-yard touchdown run that made it 28-14. Following a second-straight Buchanan three-and-out, Espinoza made a 68-yard touchdown catch-and-run off a pass from Oscar Reyes. Then a Cedric Parker interception and 25-yard return set up an 18-yard strike from Reyes to John Pimentel.
"They make it real helpful with yards after the catch," said Reyes, who passed for 359 yards and four touchdowns. "We do a lot of short passes and just let them run with it."
Buchanan, starting six underclassmen on offense and seven on defense, got a 49-yard touchdown run from Zach Umfress and a 70-yard touchdown pass from Nolan Sorensen to Tyler Fry.