Mario Rodriguez contributed the final part of the winning formula that has Dinuba High headed to the Central Section Division III football semifinals.
Rodriguez answered South's tying touchdown by returning the ensuing kickoff 77 yards for a score with 5:42 left, and that proved to be the difference as the fifth-seeded Emperors ousted the No. 4 Rebels 42-35 on Friday in Bakersfield.
Oregon State-commit Marcus McMaryion passed for four touchdowns, the last of which was a 48-yarder to Xavier Jones that gave Dinuba a 35-28 lead late in the third quarter.
But Eddie Perez's second touchdown pass of the night to Keith Evans, a 62-yarder with 5:56 remaining in the game, tied the score at 35-35 for South.
The reigning division runner-up Emperors advance to host No. 9 Independence in next week's semifinals. Independence beat top-seeded Tulare Western 21-7 on Thursday.
Porterville 61, Madera 12: The No. 2 Panthers played a game of Everybody Scores, putting five players into the end zone in a drubbing of visiting Madera.
Senior running back Austin Hefner ran for three touchdowns, and sophomore star Isaiah Jones punctuated his return from an ankle sprain with 12 carries for 113 yards and a 48-yard touchdown sprint just before halftime for a 41-6 lead.
The Panthers' 61 points were a flashback to their 5-0 start, when they led the Central Section in scoring before injuries and a two-game skid slowed them down in East Yosemite League play.
Now that they're healthy, the road to the D-III title goes through them with the top-seeded Mustangs eliminated. Next challenge: No. 6 Ridgeview.
"When we're healthy like this, we're a dangerous team," Porterville coach Carl Scudder said.
Alec Gamboa led Madera with 17 carries for 193 yards,including a 38-yard touchdown run.
Ridgeview 24, Washington 6: The Wolf Pack wore down the host and No. 3 Panthers in the fourth quarter.
Washington scored on its second possession, turning an Alex Bolden fumble recovery into a 41-yard touchdown drive capped by Raniel Rogers' 29-yard pass from Luis Escobedo for a 6-0 lead.
But the Panthers were held to 114 yards on their next seven possessions.
Ridgeview took a 7-6 halftime lead, extended it to 14-6 in the third quarter and -- after Washington missed a 30-yard field goal try late in the quarter -- went on a 16-play drive to a field goal with 5 minutes left in the fourth.
The Panthers -- who beat Ridgeview 26-0 on Oct. 4 at Chukchansi Park for the second victory in a seven-game winning streak -- saw their last two drives end in interceptions, with Jessie Morua scoring his second touchdown to put the game away.
Bakersfield 44, Clovis West 21: Jeremiah Reddick set the tone by scoring on a 77-yard run as the top-seeded Drillers (9-2) bolted to a 37-7 halftime lead en route to coasting over the No. 8 Golden Eagles (5-7).
Bakersfield, champion of the Southwest Yosemite League, has won by an average of 35 points in a seven-game winning streak. The Drillers have lost only to state-ranked teams in Oaks Christian-Westlake Village and Long Beach Poly.
Clovis West, following 2-9 and 3-8 seasons, hadn't finished with three consecutive losing records since doing so in its inception, from 1978-80.
Sanger 7, Redwood 0: Kris Elizondo capped a drive launched by a turnover with a 3-yard run with 7:25 left and the fifth-seeded Apaches edged the No. 4 Rangers.
Daniel Martinez ended the drama with his interception with a minute to play for Sanger, which faces top-seeded El Diamante in the semifinals.
Kingsburg 21, Lemoore 13: The second-seeded Vikings, down 13-0 at halftime, rallied past the seventh-seeded Tigers.
Jimmy Kesting had a 67-yard run with 7:54 left in the third and in the fourth Brandon Steele threw a go-ahead touchdown pass to Andrew Peterson and iced it with a late 1-yard TD run.
Kingsburg will host No. 3 Garces, a 20-3 winner over No. 6 Tehachapi in the other semifinal.
Wasco 42, Exeter 28: Just when the fifth-seeded Monarchs looked like they might make a royal comeback, the No. 4 Tigers Sharpened up.
After seeing a 35-7 lead at the end of three quarters trimmed to 35-28 with 3:27 to go, defending champ Wasco got a 58-yard touchdown run by Isaiah Sharpe to seal its quarterfinal victory.
Exeter starting quarterback Adin Trujillo left after throwing three interceptions and receiving a handful of hard hits in the second quarter. Javier Brito came in to complete 8 of 14 passes, two for touchdowns, and ran for a score.
Wasco will face top-seeded Mission Oak in the semifinals.
Central Valley Christian 28, Cesar Chavez 16: The defense helped the second-seeded Cavaliers pull away in the fourth quarter, getting a safety and later a 32-yard interception return for a touchdown from Blake Jacobi against the seventh-seeded Titans.
CVC advances to face No. 3 Bakersfield Christian in next week's semifinals. The Cavaliers opened the season with a 34-33 win over the Eagles on Sept. 6.
Steve Van Grouw got CVC on the board first when he caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from Tony Dragt in the second quarter.
Alex te Velde, who rushed for 115 yards on 11 carries, gave the Cavaliers a 14-0 lead in the third quarter with a 56-yard run.
Macintyre Garbani's 2-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter put CVC ahead 28-0.
Bakersfield Christian 61, Kerman 21: Matt Smith ran for 200 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Eagles past the No. 11 Lions.
Kerman scored twice in the span of 17 seconds in the second quarter, after getting shut out 15-0 in the first, but Bakersfield Christian answered with two TDs.
Kerman's Evan Sagariballa threw for two touchdowns and 179 yards. In the Lions' final five drives, they turned the ball over twice and punted three times.
Mendota 52, Shafter 12: Edgar Segura -- with the touchdown record already in hand -- continued his drive toward the section career rushing mark with a school-record 380 yards in the second-seeded Aztecs' blowout win over the No. 7 Generals.
Segura also tacked on seven more TDs to his record scoring total and has 7,443 rushing yards, passing Bakersfield's Steve Wofford (7,100, 1992-94) for second place.
Atop the list is Tulare's Dominique Dorsey (7,761, 1998-2000).
Lindsay 28, Kern Valley-Lake Isabella 20: Jacob Hernandez scored four touchdowns -- two each rushing and receiving -- and the fourth-seeded Cardinals shook off an early deficit to earn a semifinal against No. 1 Liberty.
Fifth-seeded Kern Valley led 12-0 in the second quarter when it tried an onside kick, but Lindsay recovered and reeled off 28 unanswered points. Hernandez rushed 17 times for 169 yards.
Liberty-Madera Ranchos 42, Caruthers 3: The Hawks moved within two wins of a successful title defense, as Wade Wallace ran for two touchdowns and took one to the house on an interception return against the eighth-seeded Blue Raiders.
Wallace finished with 161 yards on only eight carries, mostly offsetting 162 yards rushing by Caruthers' Delcio Tavares.
Liberty beat Lindsay 34-17 in the 2012 semifinals.
Farmersville 50, Laton 8: Sam Metcalf passed for five touchdowns, leaving him one shy of tying the section single-season record, while leading the top-seeded Aztecs into the final for the third straight year with a win over the No. 5 Mustangs.
Metcalf is looking to match or surpass the record of 50 thrown by Tulare's Emmanuel Lewis in 2005, according to section historian Bob Barnett.
Farmersville will seek its first section football title next week when it hosts No. 2 Strathmore.
Strathmore 20, Avenal 8: Uriel Mejia scored on runs of 6 and 16 yards to send the Spartans past the No. 3 Buccaneers.
Strathmore also received a 4-yard touchdown run from Ricardo Madrigal.