The last time Clovis North and Clovis East highs squared off, it took the last-minute heroics of Jayson Lee and David Akande for the Broncos to escape with a close Tri-River Athletic Conference win.
The duo of two-way standouts did enough during the first 24 minutes Friday at Veterans Memorial Stadium to take most of the drama out of the rematch.
Lee and Akande combined to rush for 190 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, and were part of a group effort that bottled up Timberwolves standout sophomore running back Marcus Washington, while leading fifth-seeded Clovis North to a 55-35 victory over No. 12 Clovis East in the opening round of the Central Section Division I football playoffs.
The Broncos advance to face No. 4 Buchanan (7-3) in a quarterfinal Nov. 20.
Washington rushed for 191 yards in the first meeting Oct. 16, when Lee scored the go-ahead points on a 17-yard run with 28 seconds remaining and Akande broke up a pass at the Broncos’ 1-yard line in the final seconds to preserve a 48-43 win.
This time, Washington was held to 10 yards on his first 15 carries through 3 1/2 quarters. He gained 120 yards on eight carries with the outcome decided.
Our focus was taking down his legs.
Clovis North linebacker Jayson Lee on the key to stopping explosive Clovis East running back Marcus Washington
“Our focus was taking down his legs,” said Lee, who moved from safety to linebacker to help neutralize Washington. “He’s so strong that if you don’t go low, he’ll go through you. He proved in the first game he can break some tackles. So we practiced all week on getting all 11 to the ball every time.”
Offensively, Clovis North gained 32 yards on its first play and 14 apiece on its next two en route to scoring on its first eight possessions behind the offensive line of center Peyton Peralez, guards Garrett Richardson and Zoe Holloway and tackles Matt Collier and Malique Goedig.
Lee scored on a 1-yard run to cap the first drive, Chad Fugman caught a 55-yard scoring pass from Jeremy Miller, and Lee scored again on an 18-yard run as the Broncos jumped out to a 21-7 first-quarter lead.
Another Miller-to-Fugman connection, this one for seven yards, and a three-yard Miller run made it 34-7 at halftime.
Clovis North pulled away further in the second half behind reserve running back Jordan Ayerza, who scored on runs of 17, seven and eight yards.
Ayerza led the Broncos with 156 yards on 20 carries. Lee rushed for 129 yards on 13 attempts, and Akande had 72 yards on eight rushes, all in the first half. Clovis North finished with 544 yards, including 133 passing from Miller.
544 Yards in total offense gained by Clovis North in a 55-35 victory over Clovis East to open the Central Section Division I football playoffs.
“It’s execution. We’ve got a good offensive line,” Broncos coach Tim Simons said. “They know what they are doing. All week in practice they looked sharp, so I was looking for us to have an outstanding game offensively.”
Simons was pleased with how his team responded to a 31-28 loss last week to Buchanan to close the regular season, and with how the Broncos’ defense played against the explosive Timberwolves, who received 183 passing yards, 45 rushing yards and four total touchdowns from Trey Semien.
“Nobody has stopped Clovis East offensively this year, including us,” Simons said. “I credit our defensive coaches for coming up with a good plan. Our guys really came to play. That defeat last week was tough on us, and our guys were determined to play well tonight.”