No lightning. No two-day suspension. No illegal defense.
It was merely a conventional game of the Central Section’s top-ranked teams Friday night at Koligian Stadium, where Central used sophomore Trent Tompkins’ 272 passing yards and two touchdowns along with a second-half shutout from its defense in a 21-17 Tri-River Athletic Conference win over Clovis.
“An ugly win’s better than a pretty loss, right?” said coach Kyle Biggs after Central (6-1, 2-0) won its sixth game in a row. “I’ll take a ‘W’ in the TRAC anytime we can get it.”
Clovis, which arrived 6-0 and No. 1, responded well after getting popped in the jaw for a 14-0 first-quarter deficit.
But Tompkins’ 16-yard TD pass to Jagade Bishop with 1 minute and 54 seconds remaining in the third quarter gave the Grizzlies a 21-14 lead that would hold up – without the controversy of a year ago that went national.
Last season, Central’s 21-20 win over Clovis began on a Thursday and finished on a Saturday morning in a game first delayed by lightning and then suspended by it before closing with a Cougars missed field goal after their six-play drive – it would be recognized on film later that day – was executed against 13 Grizzlies defenders on five plays and 12 on the other.
This time, Central eased through Clovis’ defense on its first two possessions, scoring on Tompkins’ 10-yard pass to tight end Brandon Ballard and a 5-yard run by Diotry Brewer.
But then the Cougars defense, led by tackle Spencer Smith, stiffened and a heavyweight fight ensued.
For Clovis, Trey Lake passed for 204 yards, Samir Allen rushed for 83 yards and had a 64-yard catch that set up a field goal, and Tyson Fraser made a leaping 34-yard touchdown reception.
But a late Cougars drive stalled at the Central 48 as Grizzlies linebacker Adrian Lopez defended a third-down pass well, among several outstanding plays for the 5-foot-8, 175-pounder. He also dragged a pile of Clovis defenders for 10 yards on a key 14-yard rush that helped seal the decision in the final minutes.
Lopez had ample defensive support, featuring linemen Samuel Satele and Brandon Ballard, linebacker Mathew Mendoza and Jake Rohrmann in the secondary.
“The defense made the difference,” Tompkins said. “I put it on me we didn’t score more points. If I would have done the extra stuff and got the ball more often to my playmakers, it would have made a huge difference.”
Biggs added: “Trent plays so well you forget he’s a sophomore. He does a lot of great things, but then makes a couple sophomore mistakes. But, the great thing about him, he’s going to learn and not make those mistakes again.”