Clovis High played without its top offensive player and center for all of the game and without its kicker for most of it.
What the fourth-seeded Cougars played with throughout was resolve as they rebounded from disheartening defeat and rocked No. 5 Central 26-0 Friday night in the quarterfinals of the Central Section Division I football playoffs at Lamonica Stadium.
Dakota Gordon, with yet another two-way performance that has established him as one of the section's most valuable players, rushed for 140 yards and led a defense that stumped Central and quarterback Michael Baker, as Clovis (10-1) roared into a semifinal next Friday at top-seeded Bakersfield.
The Drillers (11-0) rallied from a late 21-point deficit and stunned No. 9 Centennial 49-42, denying the Cougars a home game with the Golden Hawks. Instead, Bakersfield – with its state-record 34 section titles – remains at Griffith Stadium.
"That would have been a huge bonus," said an otherwise-ecstatic Cougars coach Rich Hammond.
And what a difference in emotion two weeks following a Tri-River Athletic Conference-ending 29-27 loss to a then-2-7 Clovis West team, costing Clovis its first outright league championship in 15 years and a probable No. 2 seed.
"It's how you respond when things go bad," Hammond said. "I'm really proud how the players responded tonight, went about their business and played with confidence."
Tyson Hardy played "fantastic," Hammond said, in place of Cougars regular center Chad Allison, who's expected to return next week.
Logan Poisall replaced kicker Jacob Poindexter, who apparently injured his hip on Clovis' first conversion attempt, which was botched. And Gordon and another two-way standout, Nate Palomino, eased the absence of running back Yoon Conner (leg), who's been out for three weeks.
"I actually like [going both ways]," said Gordon, who rushed for 211 yards against Clovis West. "It adds something different to the game."
Baker closed his three-year career with 7,273 yards passing, but only 74 came against the Cougars, who intercepted three passes – two by Adrian Salas.
Six of Baker's nine interceptions this season came against Clovis, which also defeated the Grizzlies 21-7 in the TRAC.
Said Baker: "This isn't the way I wanted to go out, obviously."