Just when a Central High post-Clovis win hangover was becoming apparent, Jevon Bigelow – with all those marvelous family genes – cleared the Grizzlies’ heads with a bolt of a kickoff return and away they ran Thursday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Central, six days after defeating then No. 1-ranked and unbeaten Clovis 21-17, roared back from a 7-0 deficit and defeated No. 12 Clovis North 28-7 for its seventh-straight victory.
It was 7-7 when Bigelow – younger brother of one of the fastest track and field sprinters the Central Section has known in Brendon Bigelow – returned the second-half kickoff 68 yards to the Broncos’ 28.
Six plays later, Diotry Brewer ran right behind the block of tight end Brandon Ballard, broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage and scored from 4 yards for a 14-7 Grizzlies lead and momentum they wouldn’t lose.
Central sophomore Trent Tompkins – 8 for 10 passing in the second half after a 6-for-16 start – closed the scoring with a TD throws of 13 yards to Malik White and 76 yards to Jaylon Johnson in the fourth quarter. Tompkins finished with 252 yards passing. He has 2,100 yards and 23 TDs for the season.
Johnson, one of the nation’s top-ranked cornerbacks, scored after making a sensational one-handed catch of a short pass, then racing down the left sideline.
The Grizzlies improved to 7-1 overall and 3-0 in the TRAC with two regular season games remaining. Win out against Clovis West and Clovis East and the section’s Division I seed will be a lock under first-year coach Kyle Biggs.
Central, swift and powerful from all three levels of its defense, sacked Brent Bailey 10 times as linebackers Mathew Mendoza and Chifumnanya Enunwa and lineman Samuel Satele recorded two each and linebackers Adrian Lopez and Brandon Ballard, deep back Jake Rohrmann and lineman Chris Lee had one apiece.
The Grizzlies, after going scoreless without a first down on three possessions in the first quarter, required a gimmick to tie it, 7-7, in the second.
Facing fourth-and-3 from their 40, Tiago Palm faked a punt and ran right untouched for 13 yards before going down with a slide.
A 51-yard pass from Tompkins to White then set up Tompkins’ 9-yard TD run with 9 minutes and 9 seconds remaining in the half.
It was an otherwise phenomenal first half by Clovis North’s defense behind lineman John Halajian and linebackers Noah Haupt and Erick Kroll.
The Broncos (1-2, 4-4) took a 7-0 lead on the final play of the first quarter on a 42-yard pass from Bailey to Tobin Hecker, who finished with seven receptions for 82 yards.
Clovis North is coached in his first year by Casey Quinn, a former Central coach.