Clovis North High’s Tim Simons, the second-winningest football coach in Central Section history, knew exactly what had to happen for his sixth-ranked Broncos to open Tri-River Athletic Conference play with a victory over No. 5 Clovis West.
“Clovis West is a really good football team. For us to come out on top, we knew we’d have to make a big play,” Simons said. “At the end, Noah Haupt had one of those.”
Haupt intercepted an Adrian Martinez pass and returned it 38 yards to the Golden Eagles 9-yard line, setting the stage for Jayson Lee’s 1-yard touchdown run with 1:40 to play that lifted Clovis North over Clovis West 20-17 on Friday at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
“I was reeling back, trying to stay behind everyone,” Haupt said. “The ball just came to my hands. Then I looked to the right and saw a bunch of green, so I took that route.”
Clovis North, which saw a 10-0 second-quarter lead vanish into a 17-13 deficit by the fourth quarter, then turned to Lee, who carried to the 4 on first down and to the 1 on second, before finding a crease and a push from his offensive line for the final yard.
“There was a little hole. I just powered in, kept my feet moving and got in there, barely. It was a close one,” said Lee, who rushed 20 times for 84 yards. “Our line just kept pushing. I’ve got to give it to them. They worked their butts off.”
The Broncos (3-2, 1-0) went up 10-0 in the first half on a 36-yard scoring scramble by quarterback Jeremy Miller and a 46-yard field goal from Chase Maurer.
Clovis West (3-2, 0-1) responded to close the first half on Connor Harris’ 23-yard field goal. The Golden Eagles closed to 13-10 in the third quarter on a 44-yard touchdown pass from Martinez to Caleb Kelly, then went ahead 17-13 in the fourth on another connection between Martinez and Kelly, this one covering 21 yards.
Clovis North, winner of three straight, will continue pursuit of a third straight TRAC title against Clovis East on Oct. 16
“This feels good,” Haupt said. “It puts us on track to defend our TRAC championship.”